Copyright Permission In The Digital Age
With terms like TEACH, Fair Use and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act being tossed around, how is an in-plant manager to know when to get permission? Here's some help.
By Rosemary A. Chase
In the wake of numerous lawsuits filed by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), copyright law has been in the spotlight a lot lately. And with the Web making it easy for anyone to be a "publisher" by simply putting other people's words, images and music on our own Web sites, we stand to see a lot more news about copyright infringement.
After all, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) has made it easy for rights holders to file infringement claims when they find their materials on unauthorized sites. If a university or a company internet service provider (ISP) is served a subpoena, the upper management there is likely to feel like a deer in the headlights. This is not the sort of publicity that a media relations office (or a legal department) relishes.
Copyright law of the United States is based on the Statute of Anne (1709) which granted British authors and inventors a fourteen year term of exclusive ownership with an option to renew for an additional fourteen years. Before the Statute of Anne, English law amounted to censorship of content and control of distribution by printers. Copyright law has come a long way since the Statute of Anne, and experienced many revisions, of which the Copyright Act of 1976 has been the most comprehensive.
The Act was accompanied by the Report of the House Committee on the Judiciary (H.R. No. 94-1476), which included the Agreement on Guidelines for Classroom Copying in Not-for-Profit Educational Institutions. The Copyright Act of 1976 was written in the advent of the invention and wide-spread use of the photocopy machine. In 1978, the Agreement on Guidelines was endorsed and adopted as written by many educational institutions nationwide.