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Saturday, June 10, 2006

Fair Use v. Public Domain

Copyright 2006 Tonya M. Evans-Walls, Esquire. All rights reserved.

Individuals may copy this post for noncommercial use without permission; provided that this post is used in its entirety and carries this copyright notice and the following link back to this blog: litlawblog.blogspot.com. All other uses will be considered unauthorized and infringing and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

By posting a comment to this blog, you grant to Tonya M. Evans-Walls and Legal Write Publications an irrevocable non-exclusive license to display, reproduce and distribute such post throughout the universe. All bloggers should contact the invidiual blogger to republish his or her post before copying any comments at this blog.

In podcast #5, I discuss the plague of plagiarism and clear up the confusion between it and the broader context of copyright infringement. I noted that it is important to determine whether permission to use someone else's work is required or whether fair use exists. If the work that you'd like to use in your own work is in the public domain, however, no permission is needed.

But people often confuse the terms "fair use" and "public domain" so hopefully this blurb will clear up the confusion. The following is an excerpt from my book Copyright Companion for Writers:

The doctrine of fair use significantly limits copyright protection. This doctrine permits use of copyrighted materials for certain purposes listed in the Copyright Act, such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research. While technically infringing on the copyright owner’s rights, these uses are considered permissible; and such fair use can be used as a defense against a claim of copyright infringement.

The concept of fair use should not be confused with the concept of public domain. With fair use, copyright protection exists and a copyright infringement occurs, but fair use is a legal defense to infringement that “excuses” the violation. On the contrary, when a work is in the public domain it has no copyright protection, and anyone can freely use the work. Therefore, the public – rather than a particular individual or entity – owns the work. A work might be in the public domain for one of four reasons: (1) the term or copyright protection has expired; (2) the author failed to fulfill a requirement (known as a formality) and therefore lost the right to receive copyright protection; (3) the work was created by the U.S. government or for some other reason is not protected by copyright law; or (4) the copyright owner actually dedicated the work to the public domain.

Be sure you understand the difference!

Write on,
Tonya Evans-Walls

Podcast #5: The Plague of Plagiarism is live!

Copyright 2006 Tonya M. Evans-Walls, Esquire. All rights reserved.

Individuals may copy this post for noncommercial use without permission; provided that this post is used in its entirety and carries this copyright notice and the following link back to this blog: litlawblog.blogspot.com. All other uses will be considered unauthorized and infringing and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

By posting a comment to this blog, you grant to Tonya M. Evans-Walls and Legal Write Publications an irrevocable non-exclusive license to display, reproduce and distribute such post throughout the universe. All bloggers should contact the invidiual blogger to republish his or her post before copying any comments at this blog.

Dictionary.com defines plagiarism as “a piece of writing that has been copied from someone else and is presented as being your own work,” or “taking someone's words or ideas as if they were your own.” We’re all familiar with the concept from high school or college or in business when a paper or project is due on Monday at 9:00 AM and at 9:00 PM the night before you’ve barely typed your name. Panic sets in and, perhaps, situational ethics take hold. Whether overwhelmed, imprecise, or just plain lazy, the person takes a bit from here and a bit from there and voila, he or she has a finished product – just one without having 100% original words or thoughts -- presented as their own work. That’s plagiarism. Plain and simple.

In the latest podcast, I explore this definition and how pervasive plagiarism really is. I also discuss the term plagiarism in light of the broader context of copyright infringement and dish about the latest plagiarism scandal in publishing, the Kaavya Viswanathan/Little, Brown & Company debacle. Finally, I give some tips on how to avoid this plague in your own writing.

Click here to listen the latest episode or to subscribe to the entire podcast. You can also check out previous podcasts and the resources available at LiteraryLawGuide.com.

Write on!

Tonya Evans-Walls

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Back on track in June!

Copyright 2006 Tonya M. Evans-Walls, Esquire. All rights reserved.

Individuals may copy this post for noncommercial use without permission; provided that this post is used in its entirety and carries this copyright notice and the following link back to this blog: litlawblog.blogspot.com. All other uses will be considered unauthorized and infringing and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

By posting a comment to this blog, you grant to Tonya M. Evans-Walls and Legal Write Publications an irrevocable non-exclusive license to display, reproduce and distribute such post throughout the universe. All bloggers should contact the invidiual blogger to republish his or her post before copying any comments at this blog.


Hello All,

After a long hiatus for travel and to meet deadlines for my forthcoming title, Copyright Companion for Writers, due out this fall, I am hard at work to complete the scripts for several upcoming podcasts. In the next cast, due out this week, I'll tackle "The Plague of Plagiarism". After that, I'll talk about "Collaborating Dos and Dont's" for those who are writing a book or creating other copyrightable work with one or more other people. That cast will include a FREE sample collaboration agreement for those who listen in! So be sure not to miss it.

Finally, please send any questions you may have to or post comments to the blog so that I can tailor this cast and blog to meet YOUR needs. And be sure to visit our legal reference website for writers, literarylawguide.com. We were recently recognized as one of the top 101 best websites for writers by Writer's Digest!

As of today, I've had 20990 feed hits. So I know you're out there and interested in the topics. So I look forward to connecting with you and 1answering your most pressing questions about copyright, trademark, contracts and publishing!

Best,
Tonya