Copyright Links Post

As promised, this is a link-post. I can guarantee that the links all worked, as of yesterday. However, not all of them go to equally usable sites. Some are more general IP, others are specific. I tried to avoid any that are so specific that you might not need them (i.e. things along the lines of, “How does copyright on reproductions of public-domain images differ between Poland and Lithuania?”)     If you are not reading this blog, you probably ought to at least poke around it once every-other-week or so. PG is a copyright lawyer, and posts links to original sources as well as to legal dictionaries and related sources. And quotes, and book-plugs for Mrs. P.G’s historical novels. A blog about all sorts of things legal, including trademark and copyright. It’s eclectic, and interesting.   Rebeccal Tushnet’s blog. A lot is about advertising, but she also has information on copyright and specific cases and precedents.  This is by a law firm, and is not strictly about book copyright, but also images, ad-copy, and patents.  A useful blog that covers a broad array of cases, ideas, opinions, events, and laws. The title comes from England’s first copyright statute, made law in 1709.  The place to go to register for a copyright in the US.  Yes, about plagiarism, fan-fic, IP follies, and law-suits. Publishers Weekly is the industry magazine. Search it for “copyright” and you’ll find a wealth of articles, mostly aimed at the big houses, but the law applies to all of us.  This is an international IP law blog.  This is an organization that advocates for copyright and IP laws and enforcement. They cover the waterfront of arts, gaming, print, and other sorts of intellectual property.  Hugh Stephens is a specialist in international copyright and covers a broad range of stories and topics.

Are you reading Kris Rusch’s business blog? No? You probably should at least skim it from time to time. Here’s the index of all of her copyright-related posts to date. She writes as both publisher and author. Her series on contracts and deal-breakers should be mandatory reading for writers considering a contract with a major publisher (and many not-so-major ones).  This is from the Library of Congress. It tends to wander around, but has some interesting bits here and there.  More than you ever wanted to know about law cases concerning copyright in the US. By lawyers, for lawyers and people who are familiar with the law. And yes, it is in fine print (at least on my screen.) This article is specific to the DMCA. Some of us have had to issue DMCA notices to web-sites and others, and this is a clear, concise article about the act and how to use it. It is also a year old, so things might have changed a little in some areas.

I tried to stick with still-active blogs and sites, that are up-to-date and that cover a range of topics. Specific articles and posts appear in other places, and I’m sure the other Mad Genii and our readers have favorites. Please mention any in the comments that you think are better than others.

(One link per comment keeps the comment out of moderation jail. After noon, local time, I will try to check the comments hourly in case you post a multi-link comment.)


Oh, yes, and there’s this…

Aliens, stampedes, toddlers! The quiet life on Shikhari only happens to someone else, or so Auriga “Rigi” Bernardi-Prananda believes.


  1. May I use photos that *I* have shot of folks in public does (Marines training,for example) ,and paintings of these photos in a book cover without tracking everyone down and getting a release? It’s been decades since y’alls eyes on some of them.

    1. If the people are not obviously recognizable, and are Americans, then I’d say a qualified yes. In Canada or other places, especially if they are children, you’d better track down the specific law. (In some cases, this even applies to some historic photos, if taken within the last 35-40 years. A journal I used to subscribe to encountered this, and a rather interesting discussion ensued.)

      1. How do news organizations circumvent these requirements? My understanding was people in a public place had no expectation of privacy. Thank you both for the replies.

          1. WEll, before I spend money on a shyster, I’ll just use my paintings, which I completely own. No individual is definitely identifiable, and if some lowlife claims to be the person involved, I’ll just cross and ask what year this happened, and enjoy a glass of wine while they try to guess correctly. The paintings have been on the Web since 2009, and were years old at that time.

    2. markaomalley, you seem to be doing something different than what news people are doing. When passersby appear in photos, the photos are often not ABOUT the passersby. Example: Picture of a courthouse. You’ll see people going in and out of the court house, but the picture isn’t about them. It’s not making a statement about them. Notice the captions used.

      When news photographers photograph people at events or in public, the pictures are only used editorially, as in the caption will be “people at an ice skating rink, attendees of a charity ball, etc.” If individuals are approached to take their picture, the photographer identifies himself and his purpose, and in turn gets the subject’s name, age, and city of residence. Releases aren’t an issue in either case.

      Is your photograph accurately representing who these people are, and what they’re doing? I remember learning about a lawsuit back in high school j-class, where an *advertising* company used a photo of an old couple sitting on a park bench, to go with a message about true love or some such. The problem was that: 1) the old man and woman weren’t a couple, 2) they were married to other people, 3) they just happened to be sitting on that bench and didn’t know each other. Oops. The use of that photo was thus a lie that the man and woman considered defamatory, as it implied they were cheating on their spouses.

      For sure look up the laws regarding commercial photography. Notice that if you wanted to buy stock photos from the likes of Getty or iStockPhoto etc., they have partitioned their photos for images that are creative vs. editorial. They tell you what the rules are regarding each type.

      But in your case, the solution is even easier: go to the website of the Marine Corps and find out what their rules are. Can you use the photos of the marines for “creative” purposes, or only for “editorial”? Can you use the Marines’ publicity images for commercial purposes? I’d be astonished if the Marines didn’t have a press office you could ask regarding creative / editorial / commercial use of pictures featuring their people. Just tell them what you’re up to, and see what they say.

      And honestly, going forward, everyone may want to keep a creative assets file organized by license or rights usage. As in, a folder of “stock photos I can use for commercial purposes,” and other such assets.

      1. Jamie, the USMC doesn’t know anything about these pics. I took them when I was deployed on an operation or training; they’re mine – the Corps doesn’t have them. And those pics I used as an example. I worked at Texas Renfest for seven years and always took a camera. I’ve got thousands of pics from then. If it matters, most of these pics, were in public, and the peeps involved had to know I was taking the pic, as they were posing for them. I put a good fraction of them on a public website many years ago. Does any of that make any diff?

        1. I know the pics are yours — but the pics are *of* Marines in their line of duty, if I understand correctly, and it may be that they have rules about how you commercially use pictures of them “working,” so to speak. As in, a party at your house vs. them in basic training with other Marines. And if I also understand, you want to use the pics on a book cover?

          It sounds as if you originally used the photos *editorially* which is when you just present them factually, e.g., the caption would read, “pictures of basic training” and an article or blog is about basic training or whatever. Nothing is being sold or promoted in that scenario.

          But now if you want to use the photos for commercial purposes, you would be better off asking the press office what their rules are regarding that, unless the website itself already has that information listed (and that’s a safe bet). As I understand it, you may need a disclaimer saying that the Marines are not endorsing you, or you may need to obscure various military symbols that might appear on a uniform, etc.

          The symbol part is important; I remember in high school j-class we were given a warning about another school that had used the Nike swoosh or their slogan for their yearbook. That school had to retroactively pay Nike to use the symbol or slogan, because those are trademarked. As a PR guy told me once, “Never mess with the swoosh.” A similar policy may apply to whatever symbols the military has trademarked; their website would likely say.

          For the Texas Renfest part, when people agree to get their pictures taken for a newspaper, (or similar editorial purposes, like for a blog), they’re not also agreeing to have their pictures appear on a book cover for a novel. The latter instance is a creative/commercial use, and why I emphasize that there’s a difference in editorial vs. commercial images. And I say “novel” only because I don’t remember how textbooks are classified in this scenario, but I suspect they’re considered “editorial.”

          To use an editorial image commercially, you need to get a release. I like how put it: if you are in public, and a photographer takes your picture, he can sell it to a magazine for an article regarding the event. However, he cannot sell a picture of you to Political Party You Hate to be used for their campaign materials. He’s using your likeness for promotional purposes, and he’d need your permission in that case.

          If you did want to use your marine photos, just email the Marines’ press person, and attach a photo, so that you’re all on the same page of what the image is and what you’ll do with it. It will likely turn out that they’ll say, “Oh, you’re fine,” or “You can use that, but only if you crop out X, or use disclaimer Y.”

          Does this make sense?

          1. Makes a lot of sense, and thanks, Jamie. The series in question does have some military stuff going on, so I wanted the cover to reflect that, so buyers can’t say I Misrepresented things.I ‘spose what I’ll do is crop and otherwise modify the photos so that the individual is not discernable, for the military pic I’ll use a hot-rodded photo of ME; all the pic need communicate that the military is an actor in the plot. I can modify the pic so that it is not necessarily even that of a Marine, just a cammied up, dirty, rock-hard guy looking mean and pissed off.There’s a romance thread, hence me thinking a pretty female face on the cover. I dunno if you read the thread a few months ago where I asked “How do you market a framing tale?” This collage cover is so far the best idea I can brainstorm to do it.

              1. Mary, the patriarch of the family in the story is a former Marine mustang.. So, by USMC tradition, he IS a Marine. It’s hard to keep all autobiographical info out of the story, but they do tell you to write what you know. 😊

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