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Saturday, February 27, 2010

What do you know about Copyright Law?

By Christine Thackeray

As writer's there are a few things we should be aware of. Basic grammar is pretty important. How to write a smoking querie letter can prove very useful, and coping techniques for dealing with rejection are essential. But one thing a lot of authors overlook is a basic understanding of copyright law.

In preparation for the upcoming LDStorymakers conference I've been doing a lot of research and have been surprised by so many misconceptions held by my writing friends and my own family.

Just to give you a little taste, can you answer the following question:

Which of the following is most protected by copyright law:
1. An autobiography
2. A newspaper article
3. A poem consisting of only two lines
4. A proposal for an original concept for a new TV series.

The reality is that only the tiny poem is really covered. Copyright only protects original expression, not facts or ideas. So the autobiography, newspaper article and proposal could be used conceptually. You couldn't quote from them without permission but you could openly paraphrase any concept you wanted. On the other hand, the poem is made unique by expression and would be totally covered.

More to come.

2 comments:

Cindy (C.L.) Beck said...

Copyright is such a tricky issue, so I appreciate your thoughts on it. I'm looking forward to the next post, so that I can smarten up on the issue! :)

JoAnn Arnold said...

I agree. Thank you for sharing this vital information that all authors should know.