In 2021 I had numerous consultations with my lawyer on copyrights and trademarks. She is a great and knowledgeable person who would always find some time to consult me.
Every time I called her, I asked the same questions: “is it legal?” and “what should I do?”.
In two words – if a text/image/audio/video belongs to you – you are good to use it. If not, ask an author permission to use it or just do not use it. Because it is illegal for this wrongdoing, people are fined (200$ – to 150,000$) and even go to jail, according to Purdue University.
Copyrights and texts
Say, a text was written by Maria. It belongs to Maria. Taking the whole text or a part (even two sentences) of it without her permission is stealing, illegal and it is cybercrime, and also plagiarism.
“It is punishable under the Cybercrime Prevention Act, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said on Tuesday, October 2,2012… In an advisory opinion, the DOJ said that plagiarism, only if it corresponds to a copyright infringement under the Intellectual Property Code, could be considered a cybercrime under Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime law. President Benigno Aquino III signed the new law on September 12. ” (Rappler.com, 2012). Also, there is an interesting article – “All you need to know about the Cybercrime Prevention Act in the Philippines,” тут.
To avoid illegal things is easy. You can quote and write where the quote was taken from. You can contact a writer too. Here are some great free tools for checking if your work has got plagiarism – Plagiarism Checker or plagiarism checker from Grammarly.
If a text is available online/offline and you can copy and use it, it does not mean you are allowed to do it.
Copyrights and images
Does the image belong to you? If yes, you can use it! If not, contact the owner and ask for permission. When you find an image online and can download it, it does not mean you can use it. Otherwise, you might face charges (fine and/or jail time).
If in doubt, contact the owner of an image or your lawyer.
One beautiful day I was scrolling my newsfeed on Facebook and noticed that one company used my image - my YouTube thumbnail. They just screenshotted it from my video. That's it. Easy peasy. I am a polite girl. I contacted the company and asked where they took this image from. My end game was an apology and a promise that they will not steal/use pictures that do not belong to them without an author's permission to use them. I was not after anything else. I got no apologies. Their strategy was "we did not know that this image was yours," then they super-quickly changed it into "we contacted you via LinkedIn, but you did not answer, that's why we used it." JTFC
It was a super long week of texting with them. I was jaded and simply had no strength to ask my lawyer to come after them.
It was not the first time people copied my images and used them for their own purposes. But in other cases, people just deleted their posts with my pictures.
If those people just contacted me and asked if they could use my image, I think I would give my permission. So don’t be afraid to ask an owner for permission.
Copyrights and music
One Friday evening, I was drinking some cava and checking my YouTube Studio, where you can see analytics and not only your videos. I noticed that 2 of my videos got “copyright claims.” 9 pm I wrote to my copyright lawyer. In disbelief, I tried to explain to her what had happened.
So, what happened, and why did I get 2 copyright claims?
I filmed video 1 and video 2 by myself, so I could not get a copyright claim. I am the creator of my own videos. So, it was impossible that I got copyright claims for that.
However, if you listen closely, you can hear some background music, which becomes a problem. I used the InShot app to edit these videos and music from them. Before buying the subscription to this application, I read the terms and conditions carefully. They said that I cannot use that music on TV/radio. So I was sure I was on the safe side. But no. I got copyright claims because of the music I used.
Immediately I contacted the support team at InShot and described my situation in detail. Guess what? They never answered. ha-ha
After that unpleasant situation, I studied all types of licenses regarding music. Finally, I found a website where you can download music, and they tell you the kind of license, so you know if you are allowed to use a piece of music and for which purposes.
For example, license Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0):
“Share — copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format
Adapt — remix, transform, and build upon the material for commercial purposes.
The licensor cannot revoke these freedoms if you follow the license terms.
Under the following terms:
- Attribution — You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so reasonably, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.
- No additional restrictions — You may not apply legal terms or technological measures that legally restrict others from doing anything the license permits.” taken from Creative Commons.
I highly recommend reading about all types of licenses on Creative Commons before using a piece of music.
Copyrights and videos
If it is not your text, image, or video, do not use it without the creator’s permission (in writing).
Check the license if you use a piece of music you have not created.
If you found this helpful post, I encourage you to thank me 🙂