Copyright

Copyright on Internet Images and Text

The situation relating to copyright on the internet is confusing. The detail of laws in different parts of the world is different and as a result the issue is confusing to most people.

So, for example, the ‘socialmediaexaminer.com’, [1] which is an American page, says the following:

Copyright laws were established not to give the author the right to deny their work to other people, but instead to encourage its creation.

Article I, Section 8, clause 8, of the United States Constitution states the purpose of copyright laws is “to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.”

It’s a delicate balance between the rights of the creator and the public’s interest. When in conflict, the balance tips more heavily toward the public’s interest, which is often contrary to what the creator believes to be fair or just. [1]

However, The UK government [2] says:

Sometimes permission is not required from the copyright-holder to copy an image, such as if the copyright has expired. Permission is also not required if the image is used for specific acts permitted by law (“permitted acts”, or sometimes referred to as “exceptions to copyright”).

People can use copyright works without permission from the copyright owner, such as for private study or non-commercial research, although some exceptions are not available for photographs. Further details are available here:

http://www.gov.uk/guidance/exceptions-to-copyright

If permission is required to use an image, permission will need to be obtained from all the copyright owners, whether it is a single image with numerous creators, a licensed image, or an image with embedded copyright works. Sometimes there will be one person or organisation that can authorise permission for all the rights in that image; in other cases separate permission may be needed from several individual rights owners.
The creator of a copyright work such as an image will usually have right to be acknowledged when their work has been used, provided they have asserted this right. If you are unsure whether or not the creator has asserted this right, then it is recommended that you provide a sufficient acknowledgement when using their work. [2]

The key question for many of us who write blogs and who both quote from other sources and make use of pictures from those sources, is what is meant by the words in bold italics above.

1. Text on the Internet and in other primary sources

The first question to address is what is meant by ‘fair dealing’. Another government website [3] talks about ‘fair dealing’:

Certain exceptions only apply if the use of the work is a ‘fair dealing’. For example, the exceptions relating to research and private study, criticism or review, or news reporting.

‘Fair dealing’ is a legal term used to establish whether a use of copyright material is lawful or whether it infringes copyright. There is no statutory definition of fair dealing – it will always be a matter of fact, degree and impression in each case. The question to be asked is: how would a fair-minded and honest person have dealt with the work?

Factors that have been identified by the courts as relevant in determining whether a particular dealing with a work is fair include:

  • does using the work affect the market for the original work? If a use of a work acts as a substitute for it, causing the owner to lose revenue, then it is not likely to be fair
  • is the amount of the work taken reasonable and appropriate? Was it necessary to use the amount that was taken? Usually only part of a work may be used.

The relative importance of any one factor will vary according to the case in hand and the type of dealing in question. [3]

‘Fair dealing’ is one element of this issue.  A more critical question is: What is meant by ‘Non-commercial research‘? One place to look for answers is with Wikipedia (Creative Commons) and specifically their comments relating to this matter. [4]

Non-Commercial (NC) “means not primarily intended for or directed towards commercial advantage or monetary compensation. The definition is intent-based and intentionally flexible in recognition of the many possible factual situations and business models that may exist now or develop later. Clear-cut rules exist even though there may be gray areas, and debates have ensued over its interpretation. In practice, the number of actual conflicts between licensors and licensees over its meaning appear to be few.” [5]

However, this site, which makes images widely available on the internet and specifies the licence on each item, is an American website and so governed by US Law rather than EU law. A while back I joined the ‘Copyright Aid’ forum so as to be able to check whether particular activity on my blog met the requirements of the law. My usual practice in relation to images is to ask the photographer or copyright-holder for permission to use the image. There are however circumstances when this is unnecessary or it is impossible. Under these circumstances two matters are important, first, a commitment to ‘fair-dealing’ as discussed above. And second, the status of any blog as a non-commercial activity.

Before turning to the advice provided Copyright Aid, here are the comments about these issues carried by the Jisc in the UK (formerly the Joint Information Systems Committee) whose role is to support post-16 and higher education, and research, by providing relevant and useful advice, digital resources and network and technology services. [6] Their website comments as follows (the emphasis is mine):

However, in addition, an image may appear on a blog even if no specific authorisation is provided by the copyright-holder provided a hyperlink is used rather than ‘copy and paste’.

References

  1. https://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/copyright-fair-use-and-how-it-works-for-online-images, accessed on 15th December 2019.
  2. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/481194/c-notice-201401.pdf, accessed on 15th December 2019.
  3. http://www.gov.uk/guidance/exceptions-to-copyright, accessed on 15th December 2019
  4. https://wiki.creativecommons.org/wiki/NonCommercial_interpretation, accessed on 15th December 2019.
  5. This conclusion is borne out by the “Defining Noncommercial Study,” https://wiki.creativecommons.org/wiki/Defining_Noncommercial, accessed on 15th December 2019.
  6. https://www.jisc.ac.uk/guides/copyright-law/exceptions-to-infringement-of-copyright, accessed on 15th December 2019.
  7. https://artuk.org/about/copyright-exceptions#, accessed on 15th December 2019.
  8. https://www.copyrightaid.co.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=2788&p=8043#p8043, accessed on 15th and 16th December 2019.
  9. https://artuk.org/about/what-is-non-commercial-use-vs-commercial-use, accessed on 15th December 2019.

3 thoughts on “Copyright

  1. Mike Ricketts

    Roger, The Copyright uncertainty is was has stopped me Blogging on the disused Railways in SW France. I tend to put my photos on Flickr and leave it at that. If I use a description from Wiki etc, I name that as a source. Living in France, I occasionally use old Post Cards to show a “now and then” on some railways etc but I have never been certain of the nuts and bolts of it.

    Reply
  2. rogerfarnworth Post author

    Hi Mike

    Yes, I understand. I have been exploring this to try to clarify some of these matters. The situation on copyright in France is different to the UK. CopyrightAid gave me some advice on this a while back and since then I have sought to follow it. I have not yet gone as far as publishing anything in print. You can find the advice on the link below. …..

    https://www.copyrightaid.co.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=2537

    In addition to this, there appears to be a provision for use of images on-line which, because the image has already been made available on-line (say on Flickr), means that the court (EU) considers that the author intended their image to be available to the wider public through the internet and so it allows its use provided that a framing link is used and the image is not downloaded onto the server that I am using. It seems that means that the image can still appear on my blog. However, I don’t expect to rely on this online except in the circumstances that I have been unable to contact the original copyright holder.

    The link for this advice is below, there is a paragraph within the wider advice about fairing dealing and the like, which relates directly:

    https://www.copyrightaid.co.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=2788

    Best wishes

    Roger

    Reply
    1. Michael Ricketts

      Hello Roger,

      Unlike you, this isn’t my busiest time of year! I have read your Guidance Notes etc, thank you. The comment about work that had been placed on Flickr etc was interesting. I have long held the simplistic view that if you put your images in a public forum, you can hardly complain if others replicate them.

      It is still a bit of a minefield and, as a French Resident, my defences are limited if I inadvertently infringe so I will continue as I am. The “Gare” photos that I have downloaded are normally old Postcards and taken from (or culled) from Public Library or Archive sources. All my uses of this images are not of a commercial nature as I have no intention of producing an E-book etc.

      Best wishes

      Mike

      Sent from Mail for Windows 10

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.