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Truths and Falsehoods about Copyright

The copyright of a creative work is owner by the person who created it unless they created the work in the course of their employment when it may be owned by the employer. The owner of the copyright in any work has total control over how the work is used with one exception.

This means that the person who wrote the words, painted the picture or clicked the camera shutter owns the rights to that work and these rights cannot be taken away from the creator of the works and the work can only be used with permission of the creator of te work.

The one exception to this rule is that of fair use when the work or part of it is used to demonstrate a critique of the work so for instance a picture of a painting could probably be used to talk about the light and shade or the use of color in that particular painting but not as part of a general article about paintings.

One falsehood about copyright is that people think that using a creator's work is fair use.

Another popular falsehood is that a piece of creative work needs to be marked with a copyright symbol, no marks are required because the basic principle is if you didn't create the work you are not free to use it.

People have the mistaken idea that if they see something on the internet they wish to use on their web site they can just take it, this can be a very expensive course of action particularly if they live in a country that provides for statutory damages in the case of copyright infringement.

People have the mistaken belief that they can use a creator's copyright work on their web site and if they receive a complaint they can simply remove the work and no further action will be taken. This is rather like stealing someones posessions and then giving them back when they are apprehended. Copyright infringement is a absolute tort and there is no need for the copyright owner of work to prove intent just the fact the work appears on another person's web site is enough to show they are guily and liable for considerable statutory damages.

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