Class Project: Ethics & Copyright

Class Project: Ethics & Copyright

What is Copyright? Believe it or not, the answer to this question is quite simple and easy to follow if you know the difference between right and wrong. Copyright is the right of the owner to reproduce or permit another person to reproduce their original work.  This can include, but not limited to photos, graphics, art, music, articles, audio recordings, movies, and even html coding to list a few.  Based on what I understood from my readings about copyright laws, if it is not something that I originally created consider getting permission from the original creator/artist of that material, otherwise do not use it.  Also, do not dismiss any works as not being copyrighted if it happens to be missing that information in their works, or listing it anywhere within their works.  The main take on this matter is that if you didn’t create it, consider it not yours to use and/or take, you must ask for permission before using it.  Here you can link to more details about copyright laws in-depth details. http://www.copyright.gov/title17/

What is Fair Use? This still falls within copyright laws, but has certain limitations of how an original creator’s work is used. Fair use, does not equate to take free, or use as you wish. Even if you’re using the work for educational purposes. I identified it as having some limits as to “how much” of any original works you can really use and still fall under the Fair Use laws.  As a student, if I were to use someone else’s image, graphics, or article(s) for that matter I would have to use a short excerpt and include attributed credit to that original creative source. In other words, how much content is the key element to keep in consideration when it comes to the laws of Fair Use. If you use too much, even if it is for educational purposes this may void/null the “Fair Use” law and the courts may see it as infringement of Fair Use and Copyright laws.  When in doubt, consider keeping is very short excerpt and always include attribute credit to the original source.  Fair Use link. http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html

What is Public-domain? One would automatically assume that means free for all, after all it reads public-domain.  However, this is another case similar of the Fair Use law in that it has some limits.  What I understand public-domain to be is works that our U.S. Copyright Office considered as work(s) not eligible to begin with, unregistered work(s) with date limitations, expired copyrights, or works published by the original creator as public-domain.  The key element is to learn “term/length” of any work to know if it’s really public-domain use. Wikipedia said it best, to avoid plagiarism always include attribution/credit to the original creative owner/author of any public-domain work.  Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Public_domain  You can learn more about recent public-domain law changes recently updated and published on January 1, 2012 by Cornell University, http://copyright.cornell.edu/resources/publicdomain.cfm

In closing, Copyright, Fair Use, and Public-Domain follows the rule of simple morals, or ethics.  Now that I have mentioned the word Ethics, what does it really mean to you? In my opinion, the word “ethics” is sort of like that saying “it’s in the eye of the beholder” and it can be a broad subject matter from person to person, families, or even a large corporation.  In my case, I distinguish “Ethics” with having good morals, knowing from the obvious right from wrong, and following the laws.  After all, this is what most of us learn from early childhood. It is the simplicity of making a good educated decision, and in the case of Copyright, Fair Use, and Public-domain is knowing to ask for permission, do not use something that you did not create yourself, follow the laws/terms, and give credit where is due this will equate having good ethics.

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