Copyright Protection and the Law

On 11/24/2005 10:30:37 AM, wrote:
Below is the result of your feedback form. It was submitted by () on Thursday, November 24, 2005

Name: Chris W.
comments: Dear Ed,
I am currently preparing my own website. Its main thrust is not on the creation/intelligent design/evolution debate (although I do have definite views on this), but does feature comments on the energy crisis which I note interests you too.
On one page in my site, I'd like to include the poem "Paradox" by Clarence R. Wylie, former professor of mathematics at certain universities (including University of Utah), now deceased. I have been trying for some time, so far without success, to find (a) whether or not the poem is still under copyright (first published in 1948), and (b) if so, whom I should approach to ask for permission to quote it on my website.
I was interested to see that you quote the poem on your site. Please, can you help me with any information about this matter?
Chris W.

Hi Chris,
Congratulations on the new site.
On your question about copyrights, it is my understanding there are laws protecting the right of "fair usage" of some material, in regard to the poem in question. Plagiarism would be the result (copyright infringement) if the "intellectual property" were taken for one's own self (i.e., claiming to be the author of the poem), or sold for profit, used in a commercial endeavor.
Neither is the case. It's so short, that it would be within reason to quote the entire poem. It is legal to "quote", as long as the true credits are given to the author.
The problems with copyright result when using poems like this one in a commercial endeavor, i.e., movie at the box office, or a book-for-profit, etc.
Another problem would result if using wholesale chapters quoted verbatim from copyrighted material, especially if not properly attributing credit to the author of the material... making a profit and/or, financially harming the owner of the material.
Such a short poem should not create a problem for you, as long as the credits are intact and the poem is not "sold".
Yes, it should still be under copyright. For 75 years, a work is protected by copyright, in other words anything written before 1924 falls into the "public domain" -- you're still suppose to give credit to the original author of course.
There are exceptions as with the "Happy Birthday" song. I could legally quote you the entire song in this email, but if I used the song in a commercial endeavor such as a movie for the box office -- I could be sued.
Claim: The song "Happy Birthday to You" is protected by copyright.
Status: True.

It therefore surprises many to discover that this ubiquitous song, a six-note melody composed in the 19th century and accompanied by a six-word set of repetitive lyrics, is still protected by copyright - and will be for decades to come.
The Chicago-based music publisher Clayton F. Summy Company, working with Jessica Hill, published and copyrighted "Happy Birthday" in 1935. Under the laws in effect at the time, the Hills' copyright would have expired after one 28-year term and a renewal of similar length, falling into public domain by 1991. However, the Copyright Act of 1976 extended the term of copyright protection to 75 years from date of publication, and the Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998 added another 20 years, so under current law the copyright protection of "Happy Birthday" will remain intact until at least 2030.
Does this mean that everyone who warbles "Happy Birthday to You" to family members at birthday parties is engaging in copyright infringement if they fail to obtain permission from or pay royalties to the song's publisher? No. Royalties are due, of course, for commercial uses of the song, such as playing or singing it for profit, using it in movies, television programs, and stage shows, or incorporating it into musical products such as watches and greeting cards; as well, royalties are due for public performance, defined by copyright law as performances which occur "at a place open to the public, or at any place where a substantial number of persons outside of a normal circle of a family and its social acquaintances is gathered." So, crooning "Happy Birthday to You" to family members and friends at home is fine, but performing a copyrighted work in a public setting such as a restaurant or a sports arena technically requires a license from ASCAP or the Harry Fox Agency (although such infringements are rarely prosecuted).

Ooops, here I am quoting who also holds copyright on the above excerpts. Even if I published their excerpts on the web, would they sue? Probably not, unless I left off their URL and claimed their "intellectual property" for myself (Plagiarism).

There are laws protecting rights to "fair usage", as in educational purposes.

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