What’s new on pdsherpa?

Here are the latest additions to the site. This page ...

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And with that, here’s what’s new ...


Contact me

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AP Announces It Will Digitally Monitor Copyright

The Associated Press has announced that it's going to use an automated system to monitor use of its content on the Web, looking for copyright violations. According to the press realease, "the system will register key identifying information about each piece of content that AP distributes as well as the terms of use of that content, and employ a built-in beacon to notify AP about how the content is used."

Funny, just this morning I noticed the AP's overreaching copyright notice attached to a news story I was reading on my handheld. Here's what it says: "© 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed." Really? You mean I may not read the facts (which aren't copyrightable) in your news story and then rewrite them? I may not reuse any part of your "material" in my own work? Bullpucky. Ever heard of fair use? Sheesh, folks, and now you're planning to Get Tough. It'll be interesting to see how that goes for you.

News Source: Web 2.0 Journal

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Photographer Tells Judge That Associated Press Has No Right to Obama 'Hope' Image

According to the photographer who took the photo Shepard Fairey used as a visual reference for his famous Obama poster, the Associated Press wrongfully copyrighted the image it has sued Fairey for using.

Freelance photographer Mannie Garcia, who took the photo while on assignment for AP, said the AP's copyright in the photo should be invalidated. The AP disagrees, saying that it owns the copyright because Garcia was an AP employee when he took the photo. Garcia counters that he can't be considered an AP employee because (according to his court filing) he was on assignment for 5 weeks and wasn't able to join a union or receive health, vacation, or unemployment benefits.

Garcia is challenging both the AP and Fairey by trying to join the pending lawsuit between them. It will be interesting to see how this turns out. My humble opinion? Fairey's poster is classic fair use, no matter who owns the copyright in the photo.

Source: Bloomberg.com

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Court finds use of 15-second clip of John Lennon's "Imagine" to be within scope of fair use doctine.

The US District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled against Yoko Ono Lennon in her quest to stop the showing and distribution of Expelled. The Court held that the movie’s producers are likely to prevail on their fair use defense. So there you have it. Fair use is alive and well ... just be sure you understand it before you use someone else’s work without permission. Read the Court’s opinion to see how it applied the fair use factors.

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Copyright renewal - when it had to happen, or else

Copyright renewal rules under the 1909 Act

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Find public domain books online

Where can you find public domain books? Here's a list to get you started.

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Picture search tips for finding free-to-use images

Doing a picture search? Here's a handful of tools to help you find images you can freely use and share.

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What is fair use and why should you care?

A work doesn't have to be in the public domain for you to use it without asking permission. Stand up for your fair use rights.

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Don't fall for false copyright claims

Learn to recognize false copyright claims. Reclaim the public domain and defend fair use.

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10 public domain misconceptions

What do you believe about the public domain? Here are 10 common misconceptions.

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Cease and desist letter tips

You just got a cease and desist letter accusing you of copyright infringement. Here are some quick tips for you.

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Public domain recordings

Here's a selection of sites where you can get public domain recordings.

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About public domain sound recordings

If you're looking for public domain sound recordings, here are some things you should know.

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UK rejects music copyright extension

Although the music industry lobbied hard, the British Government has decided not to extend the copyright duration for sound recordings. The copyright term for British sound recordings is still 50 years from date of publication. This is a welcome development and a victory for common sense, IMHO. Most musicians have contracts requiring them to pass royalties back to their record labels ... and if they happen to be the song's composer, they've got a life + 70 copyright term on the music itself, anyway.

News source: Reuters by way of /..

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Optimal copyright term decided by math

Turns out the founders of the United States had it right: copyright terms should last for 14 years. As reported by Ars Technica, Cambridge University PhD candidate Rufus Pollock has determined mathematically that the "optimal level of copyright" is 14 years. Apparently a 14 year term would "encourage the best balance of incentive to create new work and social welfare that comes from having work enter the public domain (where it often inspires new creative acts)." Mr. Pollock's calculations are available online (PDF).

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Was that book's copyright renewed?

Throughout this site I tell you what you need to know to determine whether a work is in the US public domain. (Here, for example.) Alas, I can't always tell you where to find the info you need, and sometimes it can be damn near impossible to find it. But here's some good news if you want to find out whether the copyright in a book published between 1923 and 1963 was renewed, as the law during that time required. Stanford University has created a searchable Copyright Renewal Database. It covers renewal registrations received by the US Copyright Office between 1950 and 1992 (for books only). Give it a whirl.

Via Collectanea.

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Free sheet music resources

Here's a list of free sheet music sites - and an explanation of what free actually means in each case.

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That Bach piece you've got there - is it really public domain music?

Arrangements? Compilations? New editions? This article outlines how to avoid problems when using public domain music.

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Is it public domain sheet music or is it copyrighted?

Some pieces you think are in the public domain aren't, and some publishers falsely claim copyright in public domain sheet music. Here's the scoop.

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The maps have been liberated!

US Geological Survey (USGS) maps are in the public domain because they're created by the federal government. But the USGS asks lots of money for its highly detailed topographical maps ... making them, well, not so available. Jared Benedict didn't like this state of affairs so he bought the maps and promised to set them free — as long as a $1600 ransom was paid to cover his costs. In less than 24 hours, it was. Over 56,000 public domain maps will soon be available, for free, through the Internet Archive. Woot!

Via TeleRead.

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Download classic books for free at Google

Google announced this week that you can now download full copies of out-of-copyright books (in PDF format). From the Official Google Blog: "You're free to choose from a diverse collection of public domain titles -- from well-known classics to obscure gems." What a great service this is ... and definitely worth checking out.

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Is there any difference between a royalty free photo and a copyright free photo?

Royalty free and copyright free don't mean the same thing, although the terms are often (mis)used interchangeably. Here's a quick explanation and a list of royalty free photo sites. I've even checked out their license terms and conditions for you.

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Your photo of Elvis is in the public domain -- so can you use it any way you want?

If your photo of Elvis (or anyone else) is in the public domain you're in the clear, in terms of copyright ... but there are other rights to consider if you're planning to use the work commercially.

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Why should you care if the work is in the public domain or not?

There's nothing like a copyright infringement definition to show you why you should be sure of a work's public domain status before you go off and use it, eh?

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Picture search tips

Before you begin a picture search online, consider the cost in terms of time and money. For example, stock photo houses are a quick way to get public domain photos, but you'll have to pay for them. There are times when paying a fee might beat spending more time searching. But when you have time to search ... here's a short list of picture search engines, and some tips for using them. You may end up deciding to pay for use of a specific image, anyway — but it can't hurt to see what's out there for free, right?

More ...

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Finding and using public domain photographs

Looking for high-quality public domain photographs? Here's a list of resources to get you started. For each resource listed, I tell you what you'll find and give you tips for using the photos. What kind of tips, you might ask, if the photos are public domain? Aren't they free of all use restrictions? Here's the deal ...

Some of these resources have a mix of public domain and copyrighted photos. I'll tell you when they do. Also, some of the owners of the physical photos (which, yes, are in the public domain) have placed use restrictions on copies. You need to know that, too. But who wants to read all those boring terms and conditions? I do. And I did, so I can tell you what they are.

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Protected by copyright, or public domain? This tutorial shows you how to find out.

How can you tell a work is in the public domain? There's no list you can consult. If you want to be sure you can use someone else's creative work freely (no permission, no fees or royalties, no need to argue that your use is fair use) ... you've got to know something about copyright law. That's why this tutorial is here.

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Using copyrighted works without permission

In the US, fair use is an important limitation on the exclusive rights of copyright owners. How does it work, and why should you care? Find out.

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Is it in the public domain? Use the copyright term calculator and find out.

Want to know if a particular work is in the public domain or, if it isn't, when it will be? The copyright term calculator is standing by, ready to help. Give it a try!

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Copyright duration in the United States

How long do US copyrights last? The copyright duration diagram can help you answer the question.

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