Photo by Alexander Henning Drachmann (cc)
So I'm still recovering from RWA this week. I have a fun combination of a sick child, a cold, and lingering jet lag. But I thought I'd pop in really quickly to answer a few questions. I've been getting a boat load of emails since my photography post. Most have been kind words--I appreciate that--but many have also had additional questions about the post and/or copyright.
I don't necessarily have definitive answers on some of these because I am NOT a lawyer and this is NOT legal advice. However, I can tell you what I've found in my own research during all of this.
FAQs from my inbox:
1. If I can't find out who owns the photo, can I use it?
No. Just because you don't know who owns it, doesn't mean it's not owned. Just find another photo that is creative commons or that you can pay or get permission for.
2. What about still shots from TV shows or movies?
This was one I really wanted to know. It *seems* like this is okay under Fair Use because you are only using a small part of a whole and not impacting the ability for the movie to sell. Jane at Dear Author spoke a little bit about this in a recent post.
3. What about YouTube videos?
If you are the one making the videos, then be careful. Don't use copyrighted material in your videos. However, if you want to say, embed someone else's YouTube video on your blog, is that okay? I haven't gotten a black and white answer on this. But here's what I've gathered. If it's a very short movie/TV clip, then it *probably* falls under Fair Use under the same logic as the movie still. If it's a music video/movie preview/clip hosted by that brand/artist/TV show/movie studio and there is an embed feature enabled, then it's *probably* fine. Like I said, don't take this as legal advice. But the nice thing about YouTube is that if you embed something on your blog and then You Tube finds out that the original person used copyrighted material, they take down the video and it will disappear anywhere it's embedded. So use with caution, but some particular uses are probably fine. (And obviously if a clip has the embed feature disabled, then don't use it at all.)
4. What about LOL Cats/Cheezburger photos or those funny e-cards?
For the e-cards, there are specific rules on how to use them. You can go to their terms of service and look, but it seems like the proper way to use them is via embed code NOT just cutting and pasting.
From SomeEcards TOS:
If you include or post any of the Content on another website, YOU MUST EITHER:
- use the sharing and embedding buttons on the Site for Tumblr, StumbleUpon, Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest; OR
- use the embed code or post the link of the Content ONLY.
Any other downloading of Content or dragging it to a third party site violates our rights to the Content.
As for the other, Jane at Dear Author contacted LOL Cats and it seems that they are okay if the embed code is present. Here's a quote from her site:
I emailed LOLCat about the embed codes and was told that some of the images don’t have embed codes for copyright images and that you needed to click through to the individual page of the LOLCat to see if there was an embed code but if there was one, it was there to be used.
5. What about recipes?
Recipes ARE copyrighted. You can copy a list of ingredients, but the directions on how to cook those ingredients are copyright protected. So no cutting and pasting someone else's recipes on your sites. (That obviously goes for the food pics that accompany them too.)
6. What about song lyrics or poetry?
Copyrighted. You can't use them in full. A small quote of a line or two would probably be fair use. The only exception would be things that have outlived their copyright term and are now in public domain.
7. If I post a link in Facebook and it adds that small pic from the original post to the link, is that breaking the rules?
Since that is a thumbnail sized pic and is a link to the original site, that appears to be fine. You didn't actually make a copy of the picture and paste it into Facebook.
8. Do these photo copyright laws apply across all the platforms: Pinterest, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, blogs, etc.?
9. What about celebrity photos?
Those are copyrighted just like anything else. Most of those big gossip sites probably pay a fee to certain companies to get a certain amount of access. They are not free to share. If you need to talk about a celebrity, a better option may be a screen shot from a movie with them in it.
10. If a site has a Pin It button, is it okay to pin?
Not necessarily. For instance, any blogger can put a Pin It button on their site, but if they are using other people's images (knowingly or unknowingly), you could be pinning copyrighted stuff. However, if a retail site has the Pin It button on their own product pages, you're *probably* okay. Never hurts to check their Terms.
11. What about book covers and movie posters?
Publishers get the rights to the book covers to use them for promotion, so bloggers using them to talk about the book is fine. However, you cannot take part of the image and use it for your own purposes (i.e. lifting off the text and using the photo on the cover for other purposes.) I'm assuming the same applies to movie posters since they are a promotional tool and when used in the context of commentary or review would probably fall under Fair Use. (Though like I said above, don't take my word as law. There are other ways you can't use movie posters and book covers. Here's a bit of an overview for movie posters.)
12. Can you release the name of the photographer or details of the case?
No. I wouldn't do that anyway, but there are confidentiality rules. So if you hear anything out there about what amount was paid or who was involved, it's probably not true because I haven't released any details and won't be doing so.
13. How do these apply internationally?
My research has been U.S. specific, but most countries have copyright laws. Things are going to be different from country to country so be sure to look up the rules that apply to you.
All right, I think those were the main ones. Hope that helps!
Author of The Loving on the Edge series
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