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See also E2 FAQ: Copyrighted Material



Professional-level materials are a real asset to E2 -- as long as the author has given permission. Unfortunately, the database is full of material by authors who have not been asked for their permission, and such copyright violations can be a liability to the server and the community.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act functionally only requires that E2 respond to instances of copyright violation that are specifically brought to The Management's attention. In other words, the law has only required passive enforcement of copyright (acting only when there's a complaint) rather than active enforcement (having E2's editors actively identify and remove violations.)

However, noders who aspire to become professional writers and who participate in professional writing communities are put in an awkward position. They love E2 and want to bring talented people in -- but the copyright violations give them pause. What can they say when their friends, who violently oppose any and all unauthorized uses of their own works, see huge amounts of lyrics and stories posted without the author's consent?

A recent incident that hit closer to home involved a music site that reused many E2 nodes without permission. Noders were naturally enraged that their words had been stolen. Another change soon coming will be a general copyright statement on every page as well as a Copyright symbol on every writeup, by the username in the timestamp.

For some time The Management was looking at ways to make E2 a non-profit company, thereby loosening some of the legal restraints on the site. It's a good idea but not likely to happen anytime soon. In the meantime, E2 is going to actively enforce copyrights. This path of active enforcement is a much wiser one if the non-profit idea isn't going to work out. We're going to stop sitting on the fence and our hands. Writeups in violation of copyright law have got to be fixed, removed or the copyright holders contacted and permissions gotten. If you didn't write it, and if it's still in copyright and you don't have permission, it's got to come off the server.

Noders who want to keep their favorite lyrics and poems on the site have a 30-day grace period to seek out permissions from the copyright holders. During this grace period, noders should:

  1. Secure permission to use copyrighted materials they've posted (and make a note of said permissions in the writeup), or
  2. Modify writeups so that they're no longer violating copyright laws, or
  3. Post nuke requests for writeups that cannot be made to comply with copyright laws.

After this grace period, E2 editors will be actively examining the copyright status of writeups they encounter, and any writeups found by editors that are in copyright violation will be deleted. If users then secure permission of the author the piece can always be reposted - the text and html safely saved in Node Heaven.

Lord Brawl says: Please be patient during the 'grace period' while we figure out how to make this work smoothly for everyone. Do not overreact. You do not need to post massive nuke requests, not yet. Plans are afoot to help rescue borderline works. Stay tuned.

For information about asking for copyright permission, plus sample letters of inquiry, read the IUPUI Copyright Management Center's "How to Secure Permission to Use Copyrighted Works" at:

http://www.copyright.iupui.edu/permsec.htm

Noders are expected to determine on their own if a work is still in copyright or not. This can be somewhat complicated; be sure to read "How to Investigate the Copyright Status of a Work", which is available at:

http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ22.html

A fairly safe rule-of-thumb is that if the author of the work died at least 70 years ago, it's very likely to be in the public domain.

However, anything published before 1923 is in the public domain, regardless of the author's death-date. This is because these works were already in the public domain when U.S. copyright law was recently amended to extend copyright protection.

For works published after 1923, the author's death-date is as of of much importance than the piece's publication date. For instance, two poems might have been written in 1925; one by a poet who died in 1931, the other by a then-young poet who lived until 2000. The work of the poet who died in '31 is probably public domain, whereas the copyright of the latter poet is almost certainly held by his or her estate.

Confused? Give our public domain guidelines chart a look.

A translation is a new work, and even if the work in the original language is public domain, the copyright on a translation goes by the translator's date of death.

If noders determine that something is in public domain, or if they are in the process of gaining permission, they should put a footnote on their writeups to let the editors know.

The act of having asked for permission, but not having heard a yea or nay, gives a measure of good-faith protection if you believe your use of the work to be fair use. Since it ultimately comes down to the user's responsibility the user's word will be taken.

However, fair use provides a fairly narrow range of protection. It's aimed at giving protection to educational, nonprofit analyses that contain excerpts of others' works. The law is grey in this area, but the idea is that for a writeup to be a potential candidate for fair use, the writeup has to be predominantly the noder's own work. A writeup that is half new material and half somebody else's work sans permission is likely to be seen as an unfair use.

Most readings of the fair use requirements state that you can only use up to 10% of a piece of fiction or nonfiction or 1000 words, whichever is less, in your analysis. Poems (and by extension, lyrics) may be used in their entirety if they are shorter than 250 words; otherwise, up to 250 words may be quoted. In either case the writeup still has to contain more original work than nonoriginal work. The law gives more leeway to uses of out-of-print works than to commercially-available work, and gives more leeway to the use of factual pieces than creative works.

For instance, an "explicated" lyric writeup with a paragraph of original introduction followed by the entire lyric would not constitute fair use; permission would be needed for such a writeup to stay on the server.

E2’s interpretation of Fair Use and how it applies to your E2 write up.

Lyrics and poetry.

  1. Cited material cannot exceed 250 words.
  2. If the cited work is less than 250 words then the entire work can be cited.
  3. Words quoted from copyrighted materials must not exceed one third (33%) of the total words in the writeup.

Copyrighted fiction and non-fiction.

  1. Cited material cannot exceed 10% of work or 1000 words, whichever is less.
  2. If the work is less than 1000 words then cited material must not exceed 10% of work.
  3. Words quoted from copyrighted materials must not exceed one third (33%) of the total words in the writeup.

Public Domain

  1. Works that are in the public domain may be cited or transcribed in their entirety.
  2. Although not required, the inclusion of original analysis or review is highly encouraged.
  3. Hardlinks to author and citations for work are required.
  4. The work must be noded under its original title.
    1. If the work is too large to include in one node, arrange nodes by chapter and title by original chapter headers if available.
    2. The node of the work’s title should contain a table of contents with hardlinks to chapter nodes.
    3. hardlink both backwards to the previous chapter and forwards to the next chapter are required.

Even if your writeup falls under the guidelines outlined above as Fair Use, you should attempt to obtain permission from the original author or publicist.

This is a Big Change for E2, but definitely in the right direction. A writer's site for writers (and readers, obviously) (and aspiring writers) (and professional writers) (and red headed writers) (this is all semantic, E2 is undefinable but it's definitely involved in publishing of some kind, okay bye). If you've any questions or concerns please don't hesitate to e-mail bones@everything2.com or e2jay@manifestresearch.com

May God have mercy on our souls etc etc ...




For easy reference, here's a template for writing permission letters:

http://www.copyright.iupui.edu/pgeneral.htm