The emerging author will grapple with a copyright issue early in their writing career.
If they do not, chances are they have breached copyright without knowing it and that is absolutely no defence at law.
If you think copyright is there to protect your creativity – I unlike the phrase “intellectual property” – you are partially right.
If you think copyright is there to allow big companies to stifle your creativity, you are partially right.
Copyright, throughout its history, has had these contradictory purposes.
I am indebted to John Lanchester for his explanation of early copyright laws. (Memo to John’s lawyers: don’t take that word indebted literally) Here
I quote from the above: “With the creation of the Stationers’ Company in 1556, printers had to register their books, in order to make it easier for the monarchy to censor their “heresy, sedition and treason….”
If you take books to be a form of media, as I do, copyright came into existence as a form of media licensing, still practised around the world by dictatorships and advertisers. (Advertisers effectively withdrew the licence to print of the News of the World after the phone hacking scandal)
The legal bunfight between Apple and Samsung also centres on media licensing.
While the stoush is over copyright of smartphone and tablet technology, the real value for Samsung and Apple is in their royalties from the media content they are able to convey.
The outcomes of the Apple V. Samsung barney – 20 cases in 10 countries and counting – will have ramifications for content producers, including eBook self-publishers. (Amazon has announced it wants to play at the lawyers’ picnic, too.) But the copyright cases are no direct threat to the livelihood of self-publishers.
Such is not the case if an eBook self-publisher is sued or criminally charged for copyright violation. Many countries have providers of free legal advice on copyright. In my experience, the advice errs on the side of caution and avoids being too specific about your query – probably concerned with being sued if specific advice goes pear-shaped. But authors should use such services if they feel the need. Also check internally on the copyright of an article or photograph. Check externally as well. Creative Emptor: let the author beware.
As a reward for getting this far, you receive an explanation of the cryptic headline: Copyright is your friend just like Joe Orton’s.
Playwright Joe Orton’s friend (partner) Kenneth Halliwell murdered the successful Orton out of jealousy. Here
It’s a somewhat dodgy analogy with this blog’s content but I thought I would grab your attention if not that of search engines.