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Monday, October 15, 2012

Copyrights: A Word to the Wise

Hello, Hello!  Have I been gone long enough for you to miss me?  Well, I sure have missed you guys! I said in a previous post that I would pop in from time to time with a new post.  Guess what?  Today is one of those days.

In a recent conversation with another SLP,  I was once again reminded that not all SLPs understand copyright law and at best simply have the wrong understanding of how far they can go without infringing upon someone's copyright.  In recent months, I've had someone pass off one of our games as their own and publicly accept compliments for the "wonderful idea!"  In talking with this other SLP I learned the same scenario had happened to her, but from a different individual. So that is what brings about today's post on copyrights.  I fear this same scenario will play out many times as we begin to incorporate technology into our daily lives.

I will begin by sharing with you the site where you can read all about copyright law for yourself  Please read the information there before even thinking of "reusing" ideas from someone else.   For my purpose in today's blog I will only be highlighting a couple of points for you.  It is my hope that these two points alone will help you gain a better understanding and keep you from getting in trouble simply from ignorance of the law.

First, what is a copyright? Here is how Wikipedia defines it:
"A copyright is a law that gives the owner of a written document, musical composition, book, picture, or other creative work, the right to decide what other people can do with it. Copyright laws make it easier for authors to make money by selling their works. Because of copyright, a work can only be copied if the owner of the copyright gives permission.
People who copy or edit a work that is protected under copyright without permission can be punished by the law, usually with a fine. In other, more serious cases, a person who copies a work that is protected under copyright could be arrested and go to prison."
The owner(s) of a copyright has exclusive rights to the following: or to put this in a way that you will understand it better let's say YOU the SLP DO NOT HAVE THE RIGHT TO DO THE FOLLOWING: (taken from the US Copyright Office Title 17 Sections 105 & 106 but paraphrased by me.

You do NOT have the right
  1. to reproduce the copyrighted material 
  2. to create other works based upon the copyrighted material
  3. to distribute copies of the work to the public by sales or rental, lease, transfer of ownership, or lending
  4. to perform the copyrighted work publicly
  5. to display it publicly
I am sorry but as innocent as you may think what you are doing is you cannot simply "adapt" someone else's copyrighted material.  (referring to item #2 up there) Nor can you use parts of it in a newly created work of your own.  And let me point out that using it in a blog post without permission or credit is illegal. (item #5 and #3)

I think there is a gross misunderstanding by many that as long as you aren't selling it you aren't breaking the copyright law.  Go back and read that DO NOT list again. You can not take another person's copyrighted material and give it away as your own either.

Let me also caution you that just because you find something on Pinterest or anywhere you may find it on the internet, that does not give you the legal right to reproduce or edit it.  Just because something is displayed publicly on the internet does not make copyright law null and void, nor does it make it fair game for your use.  Be careful of what you are doing.  As the use of technology increases in our daily lives we are going to have to become more knowledgeable about copyright law. 

How long does a copy right last? (taken from US Copyright Office Title 17 Section 302)
"Copyright in a work created on or after January 1, 1978, subsists from its creation and endures for a term consisting of the life of the author and 70 years after the author's death.  In the case of a joint work prepared by two or more authors who did not work for hire, the copyright endures for a term consisting of the life of the last surviving author and 70 years after such last surviving author's death."

I want to make sure everyone understands that just because 2 Gals Speech Products is no longer a functioning business does not mean the copyrights we hold are no longer effective.  Leah and I own the copyrights and they will remain in effect for 70 years after we die or we sell them.  

It is important to note that if you are the author of a work it does not have to be registered with the US Copyright Office for copyright law to be upheld.  You only have to prove that you created the work first.

So please be very care with what you are posting in your blogs and the materials you are creating.  And by all means, if you are going to use something that belongs to someone else, cite your source and when people thank you for that "wonderful idea" don't take credit for it.  Give credit to the author.

One more thought, when the owner of a copyright updates the copyrighted item that certainly does not make the original version fair game for copying.

Hope this helps you stay out of trouble! 




  1. Great blog post Dean. I think it's something that we quite often forget. I know I've been guilty of seeing something online and thinking Wow..this is great without giving consideration to the copyright.

    I know Pinterest has had this issue before and it has been criticized because there's a lack of copyright information.

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  3. Thanks Dean! I'd love hearing more from your blog and I agree with you. Before we get information from the web, we should take into consideration to give credit to the author or the owner of the post. This would definitely get us out from cyber trouble. Your blog is much appreciated.

  4. I am SO glad I found this! I am starting a new blog and do not really know where to begin! This was extremely helpful! Am I legally allowed to post a link to this blog on my blog?

    1. Most people are quite happy to be referenced and/or linked to in another person's blog :) I like to get permission first but as long as you credit them you are legally ok. Just think of copyright like plagiarism...if it's not yours originally, don't try to take credit for it :)

      I'm humbled that you'd want to mention me/my blog. My best wishes on your new venture into the world of blogging!