Copyright Myths vs. Facts

The objective of copyright law is to provide a legal framework to assure creators of original work that their artistic talent is fairly rewarded and protected.

The advancement in technology and the Internet has made it much easier for works to be created, published, and copied as well. With increasing digital content, there are many misconceptions regarding the copyright law circulating online. This is an attempt to clarify the myths and facts associated with copyright law.

Copyright covers a wide range of creations that include literary works, artistic works, development software, computer programs, movies, music, etc. There is a myth that one can copy or republish a particular content as long as credit is given to the original owner. But the fact is that the exclusive right to copy content belongs to the owner of the copyright only and no one is entitled to reuse a work in any way unless an explicit permission is obtained from the owner.

It is also assumed that content published online becomes public property as it is in the public domain and it diminishes copyright protection on it. But the fact is that the authors have exclusive right on the published content, so other users should take measures to confirm ownership of the content before publication.

There is a third misconception that any work that doesn’t bear the copyright notice or tag is open to be reused. However, copyright exists in a work from the moment the content is recorded in any fixed and observable form. Non-display of the copyright note does not confer any permission on anyone to reuse that work.

Another area of uncertainty is regarding derivative works. The fact is that such works are still covered by copyright. It is believed that if one modifies or partly uses someone else’s work, it doesn’t breach the copyright law. On the contrary, it is only treated as a ‘fair use’ when a person accesses the work just as a reference.

There is another gray area related to the financial gain from the protected content. It is presumed that a person can use another person’s work if there is no financial gain or profit from it. But in reality, copying someone else’s work is a breach of copyright law, and money is not a consideration in that case.

Many myths persist about fair use, which is an essential right that allows the use of copyrighted material under certain circumstances. Therefore, while creating, sharing, and consuming media on the Internet may be easier than ever before, copyright regulations are still in force and must be respected.


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