Copy the right way!

Over the years I have noticed that there are weird unwritten rules on the internet about what is original content and what will be termed as ‘stuff that has been ripped off’. A RT, a Source link etc are gestures which do cover our ass but people, especially clients, get crazily worked up when words like Intellectual Property or Copyright are mentioned.

No, this is not me ranting about the cross and the crescent fight of client and agency. We will keep that for another post.

The recent shutdown of Megaupload and its CEO facing criminal charges is a serious enough reason to know the laws of the land. Here I will try and decipher what exactly are the terms for copyright laws when it comes to this realm of anarchy called the internet.


To understand these terms, we first need to understand the term Copyright. When someone creates some content, like a website,a blog post, movie, song etc., they have complete authority over how this content can be used. Anyone using the content will have to take permission from or pay (whatever the terms) to the creator.


But there is an exception to the rule – Fair Use Policy*- and without this the Internet and Social Media would be dead! 

While quoting an author, if you link back to the website, quote or blog, then you need not take any permission. You also don’t need permissions if you are simply commenting on that content or parodying it. Even if you use the content to be compared or to get a point across, permission is not required. The point is to credit whenever, where ever possible.


*There is a exception to the rule if it’s a song, then you might need a release signed from the creator or you can wait till sixty years from the beginning of the calendar year following the year in which the author dies! You can check this link to learn more about Fair Use.


Using pictures/ photos is also tricky. You are allowed to use portions of work if its for a non-profit, academic or other purposes with certain limitations. You can lookup this link to check usage of digital photos.


If you are the creator of the content, then law protects you automatically. You need not register stuff with anyone. If you can prove its original it stands good. It’s best to put the copyright symbol on pictures, so people are made aware.
Indian Copyright Laws are similar to the international ones and attract criminal liabilities where you can be jailed upto 6 months. Be careful! You can read the relevant Wiki entry here.


Know your rights about Copyrights before you post your next update.