There are a number of different copyright issues in today’s world of easy access to images and information. 
Many of us insert copyrighted material into presentations, training material or web pages without realizing it, using the internet as a giant information resource.

If any work, electronic or “real world,” can be seen, touched or heard and was created with some spark of originality, it is probably copyrighted.  While copyright laws limit how protected works can be used, they also make allowances to ensure that protected works may be legally used for many purposes, even without the permission of the owner of the copyright.

Others knowingly use copyrighted material, erroneously believing that it’s okay to use the material as long as they are not making a profit from it or that it is okay so long as no more than a certain amount is used.

The company you work for may have a policy on copyright infringement.

While taping a cartoon from the newspaper to refrigerator at home and forwarding an interesting newspaper article by private e-mail might be a “fair use” of copyrighted material, and, thus, not an infringement, using the same cartoon and article in a presentation would constitute infringement.

In some organizations, supervisory and management personnel have directed employees to use material even after being informed it would be infringement to do so.

Copyright infringement can be expensive

  • Penalty of actual damages and loss of profit to the copyright holder of up to $20,000
  • Statutory penalties of up to $100,000
  • Failure to include “management information” for a copyrighted work used on a commercial website: criminal penalty for a first offense; up to $500,000 and 5 years in prison.

Copyright rules for business and industrial training and instruction are different from those for education

  • Copyright laws include provisions that insulate “teachers and other non-profit users of copyrighted material... against unwarranted liability for infringement.”1
  • These provisions do not extend to instructors and trainers who are employees or contractors for a commercial business or industry.
1. Circular 21, Reproduction of Copyrighted Works by Educators and Librarians, U.S. Copyright Office

Updated Thursday, 08. October 2009, 09:55 by Michael Goad ()

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