How disclaimers do not protect you and how the Fair Use act doesn't apply
First of all, remember that every single image/essay/poem/article/etc.
is copyrighted to the original creator as soon as they create it - it does
not have to have a © symbol on it, it does not have to tell you that you
can't remove/copy/use/reproduce it, etc.
(or, they may just say "do not use" in the cases of things like poems).
Check the home/welcome page or the "about us" page if there's no actual TOU
that you can determine. If you can't find it or are unsure, use the contact
email address (which most places also have). In the case of MSN, Yahoo,
Google, Etc Groups, you may have to join in order to email the managers.
Remember, it is up to you to determine what you can & can not use.
Some people will change their minds on if/how they allow their work to be
used (this is where a mild disclaimer might be useful offering to remove
stuff but it still will not truly protect you). You need to periodically
double check to be sure you're in the clear.
A copyright infringement claim can be filed with with a Group Host (i.e.
Msn, Yahoo, Google, Etc) and no amount of disclaimers or posting of the Fair
Use Act will keep them from, perhaps, disabling/deleting your group. Keep
your nose as clean as possible and, chances are, if you happen to use
something you shouldn't, you will be contacted directly or, if the host is
contacted, they will only ask you to delete the
graphic/thread/poem/article/etc. All you can do is the best you can to keep
your groups/sites clean.
The Fair Use Act only applies if you're using something as a teaching tool
or offering something like a movie or book critique.
It's OK to:
- Post a © picture in order to study the technique of the artist, that's
- If you post an article or poem to study the way the author writes,
that's ok, too.
- Post a book cover in order to study the artwork is ok
- Post a paragraph from the book in order to study the author's writing
technique is ok.
It's NOT OK to:
- Post a poem or article in it's entirety without the express approval of
the author just to "share" or discuss/debate content.
- Post artwork just to "share."
Alter artwork to make websets/sigs/tags/snags/tubes.
- Post a book cover in order to share/discuss/debate the book is not.
- Posting an article in it's entirety because you're too lazy to write
your own is not.
Again, if you've sought & been granted permission to post book covers or
articles or display/use an artists work, you would be allowed to use them.
While this course is mostly aimed at people who use graphics created by
others (in other words, you trust I have permission to use/created my own
graphics that I offer to you), I've sort of stumbled into how to tell
if people can use original graphics (and other creative works). At no time
would anybody be allowed to redistribute said creations.
Personal Use - what does it mean?
First of all, always read a sites/artists/graphics makers full TOU to
determine (or attempt to determine) exactly what they mean by "personal
use." Generally speaking, though, it means you can save stuff to your hard
drive to admire at your leisure; you can apply it as desktop wallpaper; you
can print it out to decorate your walls (and, thus, share it with a few
friends and family members or, perhaps, co-workers)
If it's a news article or another written work it basically means you can do
much the same as above (although why you'd want to apply it as desktop
wallpaper is beyond me, lol).
In some cases, personal use with graphics may mean you can actually decorate
your web pages or use it in your email (but, as we all know by now, you
cannot offer the stuff for download) - this is where carefully reading the
terms come in. When in doubt, don't .
You cannot offer any of the above to other people - this means, in terms of
news articles, etc., your best bet is to simply provide a link to the
original source (although writing your own summary/commentary/etc. is
perfectly acceptable). Can you post a teaser of a paragraph or two? This is
an iffy issue. I think for the purposes of discussion/news/political groups
it's probably ok (but, as always, best to check with the original source).
The Fair Use Act and "personal use" are two entirely separate issues.
Remember, the Fair Use Act only covers things being used for
educational/critique purposes - it doesn't cover wanting to save an MGM
still from the Wizard of Oz to put on your desktop or print out to hang on
the wall (and it definitely doesn't cover making graphics to be used by
other people - i.e. a sig or snag).
Recap: Everything is ©; you need permission for use (granted either on site
or via email); Fair Use doesn't mean you can use anything you like however
you like; nothing gives you the right to redistribute graphics & other
creative works; personal use doesn't mean you can post whatever you like,
wherever you like.