Copywrong_Copyright's blog

In the News

In the News

There have been a couple of interesting copyright cases in the news recently. The first case involves Teller from the magic duo Penn and Teller and his decision to sue a man for stealing one of his magic tricks. Unfortunately, the defendant in the case has disappeared, so there’s no telling how Teller’s case will play out. Chris Jones wrote a fascinating piece on this for Esquire.

The second case concerns the long-standing battle over the rights to Superman. A federal court has ruled that DC Comcis and Warner Bros. may retain their rights and royalties. A brief outline of the case by Michael Cavna was recently published in The Washington Post


Fair Use

Fair Use

Fair use is one of the trickiest aspects of copyright law. Essentially, it is the exception to rule that copyright holders have the sole right to determine how their works are used. Some of the uses that fall under the fair use doctrine include parody, educational use, and criticism. For example, a quote from a written work may be used in a review or scholarly paper without the consent of the copyright holder.

The rules for what constitutes fair use are vague and open to interpretation; there are no specific limits on the number of words or pages that may be quoted. There are, however, some best practice guidelines. For example, it is best to use as little of a work as possible, and only what is absolutely necessary. The Center for Social Media has published The Code of Best Practices for Academic and Research Librarieswhich provides some useful guidelines for librarians trying to determine what constitutes fair use. Also keep in mind that only non-commercial uses fall under the fair use doctrine.

When it comes to images and music, it is even more difficult to determine what is fair use and what is copyright infringement. When in doubt, seek permission from the copyright holder before reproducing his or her work.

The Public Domain

The Public Domain

Current copyright law dictates that works enter the public domain seventy years after the death of their creators. This means that there is a vast repository of works that are accessible free of restrictions, with new works becoming available every year.

Project Gutenberg is currently the largest on-line collection of free eBooks that are in the public domain in the United States. (Copyright laws differ from country to country, so not all works are available everywhere.) The project relies on volunteers to help digitize and proofread books, and is strictly not for profit. In addition to books, Project Gutenberg has recently started a Sheet Music Project and is building a collection of public domain music scores.

The Library of Congress American Memory collections are another great place to find free open access works. The literature collections includes 19th century books and periodicals, while the music collections include both sound recordings and sheet music.

Welcome Back

Welcome Back

Welcome back to Copywrong Copyright. I’m Megan Kettner, the new copyright blogger. If you have any questions or ideas for future posts, feel free to email me. In the meantime, I’ll be providing some basic information on copyright. In later posts I’ll deal with specific issues such as fair use and public domain, and provide some examples of interesting or unusual copyright cases.

What is Copyright? 

Copyright law protects the rights of a creator of a work, granting that creator the sole right to determine how and by whom that work--and any derivative works--can be used. Current U.S. copyright law protects a work for a term consisting of the life of the author plus 70 years, after which the work enters the public domain (meaning it can be used by anyone in any manner). So, for example, the works of Virginia Woolf and Sherwood Anderson, who both died in 1941, entered the public domain at the beginning of 2012.

It is important to remember, however, that even though a work may be in the public domain, that does not mean that all of that work’s derivatives are in the public domain. The original works of Fyodor Dostoyevsky, for example, are public domain, but some English translations of his works are still under copyright protection.

What can be Copyrighted?

Public Domain

Public Domain

What is Public Domain?

Public Domain is information, knowledge or artistic creation no longer protected by copyright.  The copyright law state in no case does copyright protection for an original work  fo authorship extend to any idea procedure, process system, method of operation concept, principle or discovery. ( Paragraph 102) 

Once materials are in public domain, anyone can use these materials without prior permission of the copyright holder.  Sometimes a previously published work now in public domain that is re- published can generate new revenue.  These funds would go to the new publisher of this work and not the original copyright holder.

There are public domain websites.......

Public Domain Music and Songs


Copyright Reproduction

Copyright Reproduction

Copyright Reproduction is one of the copyright rights. It is called by other names derivative works, new arrangaments, retelling but in the end it all means the same: using the copyright of that particular work and changing it but still maintaining parts of the work which are recongizable.


Copyright Basics

What is copyright? 

Copyright is a right granted by law for the original works for authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression.  Copyright covers both published and unpublished works.

What does copyright protect?

Copyright protects original works of authorship such as literary, dramatic, musical, artistic works, computer software and architecture.

Copyright protects expression only NOT ideas or facts.  Facts and discoveries are not protectable by copyright.



Welcome to Copywrong Copyright a new blog from the Memphis Public Library & Information Center.  This blog has been created to help you understand copyright issues, or ask questions.  This Intellectual Property Blog will deal with subject areas across the board.  For my first blog on copyright I want to say this is exciting and a little intimidating but I am passionate about this subject so it is an opportunity potentially to learn and gain applicable knowledge.

To start there will be basic information necessary for users to have in order to gain essential understanding of copyright.

Please feel free to ask questions concerning copyright.

Contact Information for Administrators of Copywrong Copyright:

Stephanie Gilliam

Librarian Specialist

Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library                                                                       

Humanities Department


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