Part 3 - Part 2
The major point to bear in mind when studying intellectual property rights legislation is that it does not protect ideas. This is possibly the least understood aspect of intellectual property law.
What copyright protects is the effort an author has invested in structuring an original work around a given idea. And it is to reproduce an author's effort that one must seek permission for.
Similarly, patents only protect the particular execution of an idea, not the idea itself.
In both cases, original, unique expression or execution of any idea can be considered limitless. This is the essence of creative freedom and is the mainstay of Human progress.
It is every smidgen as essential to protect creative freedom as much as the products that a switched on mind working within that freedom produces.
However, while this is undoubtedly true, there are times when employing others endeavors is entirely befitting.
Perhaps an author writes in a manner that articulates and conveys an idea so lucidly, that it deserves to be included in one's own writing unchanged. (verbatim et literatim).
Sometimes a patented mechanism just happens to be most suitable to effectively complete a machine. Even amongst originally conceived alternatives.
Or, to produce a desired Creation is simply beyond one's innate ability to do so.
For example, I wished to express a wonderful relationship visually, but (apart from technical drawing) cannot draw or paint to save myself.
This beautiful expression of friendship fills the bill perfectly and it is a gentle, yet poignant, reminder, that we all need each other's skills and talents, which is why you will find other's images on this site.
The reasons to use others work is as endless, and personal, as creativity itself. By definition, when we share we benefit. New things are brought into being. One thing is for certain, doing the right thing by each other stimulates the mind to operate on higher planes of thought. Which is the place where we must be to do our own best work.
Doing the right thing means asking for (and where appropriate, giving) permission.
To reproduce other creators intellectual property, permission must be sought and gained.
This can be a relatively simple transaction or a time wasting nightmare.
All depending on the age of the work and how many times entitlement may have changed hands, or even the difficulty involved in locating the author of a given work.
Determination and the desire or need to use a work rules. A useful place to begin searching, of course, is the net.
Many copyright holders maintain websites relating to their wares, which is a good starting point to make contact. Letter writing to Publishers and Author Associations in your field of interest is an alternative to track down rights holders.
Some sites clearly display an easy to follow system to obtain permission to use copyrighted material.
Others are not so generous, or approachable, as their less than friendly terms and conditions of use indicate in no uncertain language.
Copyright Licensing Agencies are a viable commercial alternative who provide fee based licenses to consumers and distribute payments to rights holders. Clearance is industry jargon for permission to copy.
The Important point here is the ease or difficulty with which one can obtain approval. How much effort and time must be spent to gain such approval.
How important is it to you to use a particular work?
Plagiarism is an attempt to profit from the effort of a fellow author by passing it off as one's own work. Doing so is no different to any other form of theft.
In addition to suffering guilt from wrongdoing, plagiarism carries the definite disadvantage of dulling the mind of the indulger.
Better by far for the psyche to scrupulously observe this point and aim to be original. Doing the right thing gives a boost to a healthy self esteem.
If reproducing another's work is central to expressing one's own ideas, it is a simple moral decision to obtain permission from copyright and patent holders, or give appropriate attribution to the author who publishes under the auspices of open source.
The practicality of obtaining permissions for others intellectual property rights is aptly addressed by Open Source licenses. Seeking permission from individual rights holders is still very much an area that requires said holders to demonstrate their attitude and clearly indicate whether their work can be used by others, and if so, to what degree. Saving all involved oodles of time that can better be spent in creative effort.
Intellectual Property Rights Rock!
Part 3 - Part 2
Next - Rights Infringement