Sacramento, CA (Law Firm Newswire) October 1, 2013 - Never take it for granted that just because a copyright search site said a piece of copy is clear to use, that it is actually clear.
“In general, public domain material is classified as content no longer copyrighted. If that is indeed the case, then people are allowed to use that work to create their own projects. The problem here is finding out if the material really is copyright free. While it may be checked on copyright search sites, this doesn’t always mean the material is indeed free of copyright issues,” outlined Deborah Barron, a Sacramento, California business lawyer, of The Barron Law Office.
Doing due diligence in searching shows that there are thousands of pieces of public domain material that has been repackaged into something else. Old books and educational tomes that have been reprinted, art or pictures taken wholly, or partially, and used to make a new collection, or artwork that made its debut as a magazine cover decades ago, now being used as a poster. It appears the only limitations are man’s imagination.
If an article, movie or book is really in the public domain, it may be used entirely or partially to create a personal product. “In fact, the public domain material may even be reprinted and sold as a tangible product, provided, and this can’t be emphasized enough, that it is definitely verified to be copyright free. If it isn’t copyright free, there will be legal issues pertaining to copyright infringement,” explained Barron.
Not knowing if an item is copyright free actually amounts to ignorance, and the old saying about ignorance of the law not being an excuse is valid in situations like this. Take the time to check and double check any material planned for use. Do not take anyone’s word for it. Find out if it is indeed copyright free and should verifiable proof be located, retain a copy of the documentation. “The fact is that a work may be copyrighted and not registered, which means performing any online search is futile,” Barron added. Many online records of this nature are not accurate and it is not permitted to use such information just because no online record could be found.
“The best thing anyone could do to ensure they are not in violation of copyright laws is to consult with an experienced attorney who knows where to find the information needed to determine if something is genuinely copyright free,” said Barron.
Barron Law Corporation
1387 Garden Hwy, Suite 100
Sacramento, CA 95833
Toll Free: 800-LAW 5908
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San Francisco, CA 94133
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