In defence of Copyright

JanJan
edited October 2011 in - Writing Problems
Discussion is prompted by comments posted on “News from Downunder”
[quote=Liz!] You CANNOT post poems that are in copyright. It leaves you and the site open to breach of copyright terms.[/quote]
[quote=Jan] Applying legislation is always a matter of balance as well as interpretation. [/quote]
With no wish to distract from theme of Pongo’s topic (there has often been reference made to interpreting the Laws of Copyright) here; is the thread where folk are encouraged to express their views. Hopefully everyone will gain better understanding of how to progress through copyright minefield without suffering loss or claim.

It must be emphasised that I have no expertise in any aspect of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 or its amendments (The Act hereon). Mine are personal interpretations written with request for opinion or clarification from fellow writers and artists.

[quote=Carol] We won't get into an argument about it.[/quote]
Debate and deliberation of different views is means of achieving clarity of understanding.
Talkback is a community of educated scribes with diverse interests, skills, qualifications and experiences. Opinions held about ‘correct’ method of pegging articles of clothing upon a washing line diversify in equitable number to theories expressed on application of D.N.A. science.

The dilemma posed:-

[quote=Liz!] I would also like to say that I know a great number of poets and having their work quoted in entirety instead of a link to their site thoroughly pisses them off! Of course, others might not mind. Difficult to tell which are which though.[/quote]
[quote=Jan] Talkback's private threads are no different to a group sitting around a table and reading a printed poem from a published work.[/quote]
[quote=Liz!] If stories are read aloud to a class, then that book has been bought in the first place.[/quote]

This is a dilemma because I struggle to understand the difference between;
i) a teacher’s purchased ‘book’ being read aloud or copied for many pupils use over ensuing years;
ii) an individual’s purchased copy being read aloud or passed around a table to share knowledge of an author works.
Both seem to qualify for interpretation under Sections 30 and 32 of Chapter III in The Act. When published work is reported on a private Talkback thread; it has no commercial purpose, the author is acknowledged and the reason is for criticism or review.

The more a creator’s work is shared, by any form of broadcast, the greater chance they have of achieving accolades. There have been many past occasions, having read a poem or other shared work, I have then sought to purchase more of that persons publications.

The Act may be studied at http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1988/48/contents

It should be mentioned that to take literal interpretation from aspects of The Act could find infringement or contravention everywhere. Section 54 (2) protects typeface when used in a specific form.
Equally; Section 65 allows your derelict or damaged house to be rebuilt without infringing design or construction copyright.

Thoughts, please?

Comments

  • I do know that copyright has come under much more scutiny lately, and some changes are likely.

    I do think poetry is an area that has a particular problem. Because some poems can be short it is very easy for a piece to be copied and pasted and sent to a friend or any number of friends, but it does not guarantee that the poet's name will be attached. Many links later someone could publish it or use it elsewhere- even though they are not claiming it is their work-but the creator of that poem gets no credit (or resulting sales).
  • [quote=Jan]The more a creator’s work is shared, by any form of broadcast, the greater chance they have of achieving accolades.[/quote]

    Agree 100%. If a writer feels the need to hold back their work from a potential reader then why are they writing in the first place? I'm not talking about plagiarism or theft here, just sharing.
  • [quote=Jan]i) a teacher’s purchased ‘book’ being read aloud or copied for many pupils use over ensuing years;[/quote]

    Schools have special arrangements for this; for example they are governed by the rules for copying - only a certain proportion of a work can be photocopied. That includes sheet music, which can make life difficult if the school wants to run a PTA choir, for instance, and they have to purchase enough copies to go round.
    Schools are not permitted to copy entire works of any kind - only the usual 10% (this percentage may have changed, but it is still a small part of any written work).
    I used to work in a school library, and had to ask permission of educational magazines - the sort that supported the curriculum - for permission to photocopy articles.
    It could be argued that by pasting another author's work on a site such as this, you are making it available for public consumption, which puts it in a different category than if it is only to be read within your own four walls, where it is possible to limit the number of readers/listeners.
    Presumably the publisher of the said work could also bring a case on their own behalf for loss of income.
    Furthermore, you must be getting into the realms of performance, if the poetry is read aloud, and that brings with it a whole other can of worms.

    As writers we want to spread our words far and wide, to encourage people to buy our work. But if it is being spread without our knowledge, and therefore without payment due to us, then maybe we would prefer to at least have a say in how it is disseminated - which is where the law comes in.

    Of course, the law is an ass...
  • I've recently been wondering about a particular copyright issue.

    I'm getting married next year at a licensed venue and was supplied (by the registration service) with suggested readings. These readings included a Pam Ayres poem - the poem appears in full on the website. I'm not sure that complies with copyright law. I'm also not sure if it would be legal to read the poem in public without permission. This is an official .gov website, so you'd think they'd know the law ...
  • [quote=SilentTony]Agree 100%. If a writer feels the need to hold back their work from a potential reader then why are they writing in the first place? I'm not talking about plagiarism or theft here, just sharing. [/quote]

    Maybe they hope to make a living from the writing and therefore want readers to pay, rather than having the work given away?
  • It's possible she has given permission for this poem to be read at funerals, in which case it would be fine. But in fact copyright permissions must be sought to read a poem at a funeral, and attribution given - and it is the Church's responsibility to make sure you have done this.
  • Phot's Moll- "Maybe they hope to make a living from the writing and therefore want readers to pay, rather than having the work given away?"

    I never said that. In fact I expressly mentioned not theft or plagiarism.I'm pretty sure using without permission would constitute this. I was agreeing with the general point about writers wanting to make access to their work as easy as possible for them.
  • Liz, it's a wedding not a funeral and nothing to do with the church. She may have given permission, but that isn't mentioned on the website.

    Tony, by passing on a book or making a poem available on-line a person has committed a type of theft (just as it says in the warning on films warning against piracy) It probably doesn't feel that way to the person doing the 'sharing' but it might well do to the author.
  • Well in that case charity shops, libraries, book circles, etc are theft. If I find a book on a park bench is it theft, or just theft once I read the words? I doubt anybody here can honestly say they've never borrowed a book or loaned one to a friend before. In fact most times that happens with me it's a way for my friend to turn me on to an author. If I like it I buy more. If I don't no big deal, they were not getting my money in the first place.
  • Ah, she's also written one about weddings! The church states if it's read in their property then they are responsible for making sure the copyright is cleared. So it must be the same for licensed establishments where a wedding, or indeed anything I would have thought is to be held.

    I lend books all the time. But I have bought at least one copy to be able to do so. Second hand books too have been bought in the past. A lot are out of print as well. It's interesting that digital book scan only be lent a small number of times. Maybe only once?
  • Libraries are, as I'm sure you know, permitted to loan out books and the author recieves payment for this.

    In the case of charity shops and individuals passing books to a friend, then yes I suspect they are technically in breach of copyright law - although I can't imagine an author attempting legal action.

    And yes, I've borrowed a book from a friend before, but I'm not convinced that just because I've done something, that automatically makes it acceptable under copyright law.

    I'm not sure what book circles are. If they're what I think of as reading groups then they'd be OK as each person would buy their own copy.
  • I've just had a look at some books on my bookshelf and see the copyright notices refer to copying, transmitting, recording etc but nothing about passing on the original book, so maybe that is OK.
  • It is a strange one isn't it PM. The balance of wanting to share with the need to earn from your work is difficult.
  • [quote=Liz!] The church states if it's read in their property then they are responsible for making sure the copyright is cleared. So it must be the same for licensed establishments where a wedding, or indeed anything I would have thought is to be held. [/quote] I do need to get the readings cleared for 'suitability' so maybe the legality of reading the poem is also considered/covered in that?
  • Maybe. Or maybe they are checking it's not a passage from the Kama Sutra.
  • PM you could always ask the registration service for clarification on the copyright issue.
  • Thank you folks’, it’s a relief that I am not the only confused person concerning interpretation.

    [quote= Phot’s Moll] I've recently been wondering about a particular copyright issue.[/quote]

    [quote=Liz!] it is the Church's responsibility to make sure you have done this.[/quote]
    About ten years ago, duty fell to me for obtaining Copyright Licences in order that music, recitals etc., could be performed at a church wedding. Not an easy task, locating correct name and address of authorised title holders. Relating difficulty of endeavours, to the Vicar, at the following reception, provoked his distress. Apparently the church held a ‘blanket’ licence for performance of Copyright material.

    Subsequent ceremonies, in more recent years at Registry Offices, were conducted differently. The Registrar advised the couple supply their own recordings of music and use personal copies of prose or poems wishing to be used. The recommendation was given in order to avoid need for Copyright licencing.

    Equally; Section 67 states “It is not an infringement of the copyright in a sound recording to play it as part of the activities of, or for the benefit of, a club, society or other organisation …” which may be how this forum avoids contravention of The Act for all the excerpts from YouTube etc.

    You ‘see’ how convoluted a web might be encountered in attempts for clarity?

    [quote= Phot’s Moll] an official .gov website, so you'd think they'd know the law ... [/quote]
    Most Law Statutes attract much profitable income for practitioners employed to interpret meaning and application. Law of Copyright seems no different.

    [quote=bertiebear] Schools have special arrangements[/quote]
    Whilst I understand how schools operate using a ‘voluntary’ arrangement of licence to copy extracts The Act appears to negate such need. Provision allows schools ‘free’ use of copyright material under the Fair Dealing clauses.
    Sections 32 through 36A describes acts, under the general banner of education, that can be carried out without contravening interpretation of copyright protection.

    Section 72 permits “Free public showing or playing of broadcast” which also seems unfair.
  • edited October 2011
    Um...from what I can make of all this, (and having referred to the 'gap' that now exists where a TBer had posted a poem before Webbo deleted it), I can see where the problem lies but unfortunately not the answer. A TBer has purchased the book from whence the poem came, and she DID name the author who wrote the poem, and yet still there is a question as to the legitimacy of printing the poem out on Talkback. Confusing? Yep. Not trying to rake any muck in any way whatsoever, but I must ask everyone what's the difference between purchasing a book of poetry to read out to a congregation/meeting/class, to purchasing a book of poetry to discuss with other writers via a writing forum? Is it the fact that the verses are reproduced in print rather than shared orally? I mean, the author DID get the acknowlegement. Just asking, 'cause I'm thick like that. *inserts naive looking smiley face here* :)
  • Paulo Coehlo, who sells millions of books, actively encourages piracy of his work because, he says, getting his books read is more important than making money. He also encourages those who enjoy his pirated books to then buy a copy and/or donate it to a worthy cause. http://paulocoelhoblog.com/category/pirate-coelho/
  • He's lucky he can offer to do that. But most writers and poets (especially) can't afford to be so forgiving.
  • I suppose it depends if you look at your writing as art or commerce.
  • IG, the difference is that the venue where the reading takes place should have a license, which has to be paid for. It's all to do with permissions and the protection of intellectual rights - which is an area of law in itself.
  • LizLiz
    edited October 2011
    He had sold 3,000 of his books when a Russian fan translated one of this books and put it online, and sales jumped to one million in three years with no further publicity. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paulo_Coelho

    However- he had already sold 3,000, he was a rising author, he is a brilliant writer, and could have been expected to rise quickly anyway.

    Now he's a millionaire and his publishers have come to an agreement with him (since he does it anyway!) to publish one book a month free online.

    But - the majority of writers need all the income they can get! And it won't work like that for an ordinary, run of the mill writer. £4,000 is the average wage for a writer in the UK.
  • [quote=bertiebear]the venue where the reading takes place should have a license[/quote]
    That might be a general misconception. There is no such requirement stated in the legislation.

    This highlights my concern and confusion.
    Much is assumed as correct when reality does not substantiate beliefs.
  • [quote=Nena]Paulo Coehlo, who sells millions of books, actively encourages piracy of his work ... He also encourages those who enjoy his pirated books to then buy a copy and/or donate it to a worthy cause.[/quote]
    [quote=Liz!]it won't work like that for an ordinary, run of the mill writer[/quote]
    Who knows? It's a practice that might accrue surprisng rewards.
    There was a time when self-publishing was 'taboo' but many experienced authors now advocate the practice because it generates greater income.
  • [quote=Jan]That might be a general misconception. There is no such requirement stated in the legislation.
    [/quote]

    Anywhere a performance is to be held must have a performance license, which is separate to a copyright license. I should imagine virtually any venue has one of these, it's something that is always bought without question for the halls in the village. It's expensive. There are several different types, depending on what is to be done.

    On top of that, any village play pays for the music rights to play the pieces of music they are playing, and on top of that, the rights to put on the play, hundreds of pounds, this all comes to.

    It's how they make their living.
  • [quote=Liz!]he is a brilliant writer, and could have been expected to rise quickly anyway.[/quote]

    So basically if you're talented you'll be expected to sell. If you're not you wont. So the run of the mill writers need to keep a tight reign on their sales as they know they're not good enough to sell in any real quantity.

    Isn't that just a case of making sure you mediocre work gets you anything because you know it's not really good enough to be out there anyway?
  • LizLiz
    edited October 2011
    Not at all. I didn't say mediocre, and didn't mean it either. As I mentioned, the average wage of a writer is pitiful. Only very, very few are up here in the top ranks or even ranks of a good wage.

    If you look at the best selling lists of children's for instance you notice that a lot of the books selling very well are in fact series books written by jobbing writers (very good writers, some quite well-known) supplementing their incomes by writing for a series of pet adventures or pixie delights or whatever.

    Most poets for example make hardly any money at all from their writing, it's the going in to schools and readings that get them their money. If everyone could read their work out for no payment - even that could drop off. But a substantial part (even if not a substantial sum) of a children's writers' income comes from PLR and ACLS or what ever it's called.

    I also know well known writers who write wonderful stuff - but don't make a huge deal out of it. Literary but not commercial.
  • Yet your point is he sold over million after his work was freely available because he is talented. So I can't see the difference. If the gauge is quality, and it should be, and you say people have the courage to allow this because they know they will sell, then I don't understand your two points.

    Also remember this. You can't moan about not making much as a writer because it's your choice. If you are creative in any way and that includes being entrepreneurial, then you run that risk. It may pay off or it may fail. Either way nobody is forcing you to do it. You'd make more money working at McDonald's than being a writer. If you have a great idea or can look at an idea in a unique way, or you or so talented you stand above others then you have a greater chance of making it. If you have none of these then it's a hobby or a job of work. And maybe you'd be better off having fries with that or at least just getting on with it.
  • Who is moaning, ST? I don't need to remember that. Poetry is a way for me to earn SOMETHING, and keep occupied, and do what I need to, something creative. As i can't make more by going out to schools. It wouldn't matter if it was painting - I still wouldn't ant others making money out of my hard work instead of me.

    [quote=SilentTony]Yet your point is he sold over million after his work was freely available because he is talented. So I can't see the difference. If the gauge is quality, and it should be, and you say people have the courage to allow this because they know they will sell, then I don't understand your two points.[/quote]

    That is not my point. My point was he was doing well anyway, 3,000 books is exceptional for a first book, and would he do well anyway, but that being on the internet made his climb quicker. He writes well written commercial fiction which if good will sell well. A literary title made freely available would probably not rise so quickly. But if it was made available, that would be up to the writer involved - just because one person does it doesn't every one should, or that the law protecting writers should be changed.
  • That's probably because most literary fiction isn't that saleable. That was my point anyway. It's not about law but the pursuit of those who break or bend laws. I's called copyright protection. If you feel you either don't need to be protected then you don't need the law. The internet has shown that sharing work for free or being relaxed about it does create a market for creatives.

    I never said you were moaning but the hypothetical writer who will bemoan others sharing work and then making more than they ever will selling their work. As far as I'm concerned the point of writing isn't to make money but to share your words with a large enough audience as possible. If you make money from that then great. If you are good enough and produce a consistent body of quality work you will make money, possibly even enough to do it full time. So my point is that we should only ever regard money as something that may or may not result from our creative work.

    To have a large audience is the first priority. This fortunately means you will also make that money anyway. So if you are only interested n money go make money, if not then be creative, build up an following and see how it goes. In an ideal world you have both. However only hard work, talent and a steady build up of readership will eve make this a possibility.
  • [quote=Liz!]Anywhere a performance is to be held must have a performance license[/quote]
    which seems in direct conflict with Section 72 of The Act, concerning free public broadcasts.

    [quote=Liz!]any village play pays for ... the rights to put on the play, hundreds of pounds[/quote]
    thus explaining introduction of adapted works. The Act enables loophole of avoiding payment for adaptaions, in Section 76.

    Hence mention of copyright minefield at start of this thread.
    Such intricacy contributes to demise of so many 'amateur' events but also confuses right or wrong of just reward.
    Many an infringement may have ocurred through genuine ignorance.
  • [quote=Jan]The Act enables loophole of avoiding payment for adaptaions, in Section 76.[/quote]

    Most plays state, in fact every play we've take out, that hey can't be changed by even one word, thus avoiding people taking advantage of the loophole of avoiding payment in section 76.
  • [quote=Liz!]every play we've taken out, state they can't be changed by even one word[/quote]
    Is that enforceable? Surely change of a scene or location makes the work different therefore "adapted from" and separate for The Act's purpose.

    It's the sort of 'fine tuning' that enables a competitor to 'copy' my architectural design and use it without impingement or retribution under terms of The Act.
    {Have to go now but will be interested to read further input tomorrow.}
  • Free haircuts for everyone! :)
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