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Copyrights and trademarks are forms of intellectual property protection that allow the owners to control how protected material can be used. The following are the basic facts that you and your child should know:
- Copyrights can apply to written works, sound recordings, and visual works.
- If something is freely available online, your child does not need any permission to read it, view it, or listen to it.
- If your child wants to publish copyrighted or trademarked material in a web page or web site, then she would have to get permission to do so.
- Most of the information published online is also copyrighted.
- The owner of a copyright can control how a work can be used, copied, altered, or distributed.
- Trademarks can apply to the words, symbols, or designs that identify a product. A closely related concept, the service mark, applies to a service rather than a product.
The Most Important Copyrighted Material
The copyrighted online material that should be of greatest concern to you is content that is protected by copyright and that your child may want to use in a web site, web page, or other online publication. Copyright owners of the following kinds of materials typically have restrictions about how their materials may be used and may take legal action if their content is used without permission:
- Books, newspapers, and magazines
While it would be a violation to transmit or republish copyrighted material without permission, it is acceptable to provide readers with the URL of a copyrighted work.
Online Materials That Are Not Protected
The following categories of material are not restricted and your child is free to use them in any way without getting anyone’s permission:
- Facts and ideas: The words, drawings, or pictures used to express facts and ideas can be copyrighted, but not the underlying ideas or facts.
- Government documents: In the United States, almost anything published by local, state, or federal governments or their employees, including reports, films, and speeches, can be freely used.
- Material in the public domain: This is intellectual property that has had its protection expire, could not meet requirements for protection, or was never protected before being released to the public.
- Older works: In general, if the copyright holder of the work is a person who has been dead for more than 100 years, the work is in the public domain.
- Titles, words, slogans, and phrases: These items are not protected by copyright, so you are free to use them. However, if a trademark or service mark is associated with a title, word, slogan, or phrase, you may have some limitations.
Fair Use and Copyrighted Material
One of the most important aspects of copyright for your child to understand is the principle of fair use. This is the legal use of copyrighted material without the permission of the copyright holder. The principle of fair use allows your child to do the following with copyrighted material he may find online:
- Print or save a document for personal use.
- Read, view, or listen to material online.
- Use material for educational purposes.
This last example of fair use is the most important one for your child because it allows him to use protected material without charge if it is connected with schoolwork or research.
Copyright and Trademark Resources
Dr. Todd Curtis is the director of the AirSafe.com Foundation and an expert on the role using the Internet to educate the public about risk. This article was taken from his new book, Parenting and the Internet (Speedbrake Publishing, 2007).
Source: Parenting and the Internet, chapter 6: Internet Legal and Ethical Issues