Monday, March 08, 2010

Permission to Publish

From my weekly (AM) radio segment titled "Legal Minute"

These days, web publishing is still big business. The desire to make a website more interesting while working under a budget, though, can drive web publishers to cut corners and consider using material without permission on the grounds that it’s a fair use. You need to remember that the fair use doctrine under copyright law is very fact dependent and certainly cannot be used when the website is a for-profit enterprise. Also, you must remember that celebrity photos and videos are not free to the public simply because the subject of the photo or video is a public figure. Unless you took the photo or video yourself or created the logo or graphic on your own, it is safest to assume that the clip or image of whatever you wish to use is protected under copyright or trademark law. With that assumption, seeking permission to publish the clip or graphic is the best approach and one that will keep a web publisher out of the courtroom. Reproducing someone else’s copyrighted or trademarked work is considered infringement. The owner of the work can force you to remove the material and pay damages so it never saves to cut corners.