Categories > Original > Essay

Giving Credit is NOT Enough!

by HatedLove6 0 reviews

I often run across people who say that as long as you give credit, you can use whatever you want. Well . . . you are wrong! I've also run across people who claim that because a work is under Creati...

Category: Essay - Rating: G - Genres: Drama - Published: 2022-09-04 - 3528 words - Complete

While it may be somewhat difficult to discern whether something that was published or posted recently falls under creative commons or public domain, most would consider it copyrighted until they see otherwise from the person or publisher. That’s my mindset just to keep myself safe. Apparently, people think they are protected to repost someone’s story or use someone’s art if they just deny the credit saying, “This is not mine, credit goes to whoever made this,” not saying who actually made it, or names the person, giving credit properly. You. Are. Not. Protected. By giving credit, you aren’t a plagiarist, but you are infringing someone’s copyrights if you don’t obtain permission.

Embedding YouTube videos through the embedding icon is a whole other matter that comes down to YouTube allowing it whether or not its creators realize it. It's in the TOS that they agreed to.

However, embedding videos that breach someone else's Intellectual Property could still land you in trouble because you're compliant with the Copyright Infringement by sharing it further.

Apparently, some people don’t know the difference between giving credit and obtaining permission. As with any time I write an article nowadays, it’s usually because I saw something and joined the fiasco, but I learned from my past mistakes this time because I screenshot the conversation. So I can now give you the entire conversation word-for-word along with my inner thoughts at the time. This person did delete the book in question, so I won’t be posting the screenshots, and I’m changing the username. Maybe they learned from this. Time will tell.

Hun: I’ve published this book, short horror; the stories aren’t mine, I found them on the internet but I’ve mentioned the credit wherever possible. The thing is I found something cool: A WhatsApp conversation. As you read through this WhatsApp conversation you have to manually click enter to make each new message appear. It’s as close to a text-based horror movie you’ll find. Should I include it? Like one message contains a reference to something mature. Can somebody pls help me out here?

Wow. This is off to a great start, isn’t it? The audacity of just reposting someone’s short stories to their book, and now they’re asking if they should do it again from another source. This person probably didn’t know better, or perhaps there’s a slim chance they obtained permission. I wish the snark mark was an acceptable symbol in writing.

HatedLove6: Do you have permission to repost these stories?

Hun: I think so if you’re mentioning the credit

HatedLove6: Credit is not permission. Did you ask these people if you could repost their stories, and did they agree to it?

Hun: I honestly don’t know, I found these stories on different sites.

How can you not know if you obtained permission? Either you asked them or you didn’t. You either received permission or you didn’t. It’s a pretty clear-cut and dry process. Let’s say you wanted to wear your mom’s necklace to a party. What would be the ethical and right thing to do?

(A.) Ask your mom for permission, and respect her wishes even if she says no.

(B.) Ask your mom for permission, and take it anyway even if she says no.

(C.) Take the necklace without asking for permission, and tell anyone who compliments you about the necklace that it’s your mom’s.

If you chose (A.), good for you, but if you chose (B.) or (C.), you need to rethink some things.

HatedLove6: So you did not get permission to repost these stories. You may not be a plagiarist, but this is copyright infringement, and you’ve broken the site’s Terms of Service.

Hun: Ooh I didn’t know that… But they come under ‘non-copyright’ category.

Do they mean public domain? Do they think what they’re doing is considered fair use? I’m confused.

HatedLove6: What do you mean by “non-copyright” category? Link?

Rando: I think it’s under creative commons (cc)

HatedLove6: Did the original writers say these stories were under creative commons or that other people were allowed to repost these stories with no permission granted?

Hun: Some are under creative commons while some are non-copyright.

What the heck does she mean by “non-copyright”? She also just latched onto some person who suggested an answer, even if it wasn’t the right answer. At this point I am just done with this person and taking off the nice gloves because I know this person did not ask, I am sure these stories are copyrighted, and they are either deceiving themselves into believing that this is OK or they are just trying to give me the turnaround. I click on her published section, find the anthology of short stories, heart it, and see that all of the stories that were credited came from Reddit, with a direct link to their profile. This is even more ridiculous than if there was no credit, or an unknown credit, because they had access to their profile, but they didn’t reach out to them and ask for permission. I sent each and everyone a short message asking them if this person obtained permission, and if not I linked to the story. I left it up to them if they wanted to file a DMCA.

HatedLove6: I would like to see for myself where these writers say their stories are under creative commons or public domain.

Hun: Link #1
Link #2

These links were to articles that gathered short horror stories, some of which found on Reddit. Hun even kept them in the same order in her anthology. The links were not to Reddit or to the thread where people posted their short horror stories, nor to a place where these writers claimed their short horror stories were under creative commons or public domain. Neither of these links held an explanation to “non-copyright” as if that is a thing. Non-copyright is not a thing! Either it’s public domain, it’s copyrighted, or there are some stipulations in order to use it through licensing.

HatedLove6: Those are articles written by professional writers who have more than likely obtained their permission, and if they haven’t they are also infringing on their copyrights. I’ve taken a look at the threads where these stories are first posted and the writers who posted these stories have not declared that their stories are creative commons nor public domain. You may also have infringed on the rights of the people who collected these stories for their own article.

I checked with one of the people who replied to my Reddit message, and in fact, the writer of the article did not obtain permission, so that’s a shame. It still doesn’t make what Hun did right.

Hun: ok I did not know that…. I’ll delete it

She then deleted her comment linking to the articles, and she edited her last comment to just say “ok I did not know that…,” not saying she would delete it which raised red flags.

QuoteV has this weird feature where if you heart a story, you can still see the story even when you’re blocked, which, yes, she blocked me. No regrets here. The story stayed up for a few hours more, but she eventually deleted it, either because of our conversation or after the writers of the short horror stories sent her a message. I don’t know if anyone else sent her a message.

Aside from that debacle, I understand that copyright can be confusing, so let me explain in further detail the differences between copyrights and why giving credit instead of gaining permission isn’t enough to save you. Please note that I am not a lawyer, and this is the best of my knowledge regarding intellectual property laws in the US. I am not giving you legal advice.

What are “Copyright” and “Trademark”?

In simplicity, copyright means the right to copy. It’s the right of the copyright owner to display, prepare derivative works based on the copyrighted work, repost, redistribute, publish, sell, and protect their works. Anything in tangible form, whether it be filmed, written, or recorded can be protected as a copyright. Anything made into tangible form is automatically copyrighted, but the reason it’s important to file for copyrights is to show the judge in a civil case that you are serious about protecting your copyright and give your work an added layer of protection. You would need to register it before filing a lawsuit.

Just because you see something on the internet, it doesn’t mean it’s free to use.

Just because you don’t see the copyright symbol, it doesn’t mean it’s free to use.

Just because it isn’t watermarked in any way, it doesn’t mean it’s free to use.

Just because this person hasn’t filed a DMCA or a lawsuit against anyone else using this work, it doesn’t mean you are also free to use this work. A person can wait to file a lawsuit as long as they want and still sue you. They may get awarded less money the longer they wait and the more this work was copied, but you would still lose the court case and lose money if you are found to be infringing on their intellectual property and copyright.

A trademark is a recognizable brand. It is usually associated with businesses, such as logos, but it can be applied to creative works as well. A series of books or videos, such as the titles in the For Dummies series, or the Twilight saga, would be trademarked because it’s a series instead of a stand-alone book. Sometimes main characters in a book can be trademarked by their name, particularly if their name is in the title of the series of works, or if they have a particular catch-phrase such as Kim Possible’s “What’s the sitch?” or “Anything’s possible for a Possible.”

Harry Potter is protected by copyright and is trademarked because he has a set of truly unique features. His name is part of the series title, he has dark hair, green eyes, glasses, and a lightning-shaped scar on his head. Plus, we got to know his personality throughout the seven books. Even if someone changed his name, but kept the other features and personality, he would still be recognizable as Harry Potter.

Unlike copyright, if you don’t actively defend your trademark, it can lose its value if it’s copied and redistributed without any action taken, and if misused, it can harm the brand’s reputation.

Let’s say you have created something, even have it registered as a trademark. If you decide to file a lawsuit for one person, but have no records to show that you’ve filed a DMCA or lawsuits against other people for using this same piece of work, it becomes difficult to prove that this person is damaging your trademark’s value when you apparently let others use it. This is why it is the sole responsibility of the trademark holder to do something because it is ultimately their decision on whether or not to file a DMCA or a lawsuit if need be.

What Are Licenses?

Licenses are agreed-upon conditions and stipulations in the use of a piece of work. You can think of licenses as renting, letting others use the work, all the while still keeping your copyright. Let’s use music as an example. There are licenses for radios to play songs on the air, for businesses to play songs in their restaurants or stores, for people to cover songs, to publicize sheet music, to perform them in public or in performances, or to remix the whole song or parts of a song, and there are licenses to use songs in videos and TV shows. Unless a song is in the Public Domain, you need a license to do just about anything with music.

One common phrase I see concerning music (and images) is “royalty-free.” Just because “free” is in the phrase, it doesn’t mean it’s public domain and you can use it for free. Let’s say you want to use a song for your video intro on your YouTube channel. Since you would be using this song numerous times, paying each time you use the song would be costly, so, instead, you would pay a one-time fee in a royalty-free license, and you can use it however many times you wished.

Visual artists would also have different licenses of use.

Book publishers essentially buy a license (and sometimes copyrights) in order to publish an author’s work and to be able to distribute it, advertise it, and sell multiple copies. If the publishers sell more copies than the original estimation in the contract, the author then gets paid royalties.

Some licenses are monetarily free, such as the use of Creative Commons licenses.

Are Public Domain and Creative Commons the Same Thing?

No. A public domain is a work that was ineligible for copyrights at the time of publishing, or its copyrights had expired. Works that are in the public domain are free to use in whole or in part, in any way, shape, or form without needing permission. You can also take the original work and change it however you want. Legally, you also don’t have to credit the creator (but it’s always good practice to do so anyway).

There is one caveat to public domain works.

Let’s say you want to translate an older foreign work that would be in the public domain in its original language. You can do that without needing a license allowing you to translate it. That said, if someone else translated it, they can file for copyright of their translation. You can still come up with your own translation of the work, but you cannot republish the other person’s translated version because they own the copyrights to their interpretation.

In other words, you own the transformed work, even if the source is in the public domain.

Creative Commons is a type of licensing that is also free to use without needing permission while the creator of the work still retains their copyrights to it, but there may be limitations on how this work is used depending on which type of Creative Commons license the work is under.

In any type of CC license, you would need to fully credit the creator with a correct set of attribution as dictated by the creator’s terms. If the creator has not set the terms in which the attribution must include, then the default would be the name of the creator/licensor, the title of the work if it’s supplied, and a URL or citation to the original work. So “Credit goes to so-and-so” is not enough. “The owner of [the name of the licensed work] belongs to [creator/licensor], under [type of CC license], which can be found at [url or title of book/magazine or publisher],” would probably be enough to provide the full attribution. If you made any alterations, such as changing a picture, you would also need to disclose the type of changes you made to the original product. No one but the original licensor would be able to apply any restrictions on top of the Creative Commons license to the original work. You also shouldn’t hint at or disclose any kind of endorsement or sponsorship from the licensor, such as using an image of a fetus and using it in a pro or anti-abortion poster, and then saying that the licensor sides with whichever argument the poster is about. You are only using the image; you are not their voice, opinion, or moral stance.

Not properly attributing the work, misusing the work, or breaking the licensing agreement, means that the creator/licensor can still sue you for copyright infringement, but once the copyrights to a product expire, so will the CC license.

There are six types of CC licenses:

Creative Commons (CC BY) in its most basic license allows others to use the work in any way, including changing or adapting it, even for commercial purposes (in which the person using it gains money from it), as long as they provide the full attribution. That said if you published a book (including posting this book online) with nothing but CC images with the full attribution, but without any commentary or additional value put into it, that may still be breaking the licensing agreement; however, I’m not 100% sure on this.

Creative Commons by Share Alike (CC BY-SA) lets others transform or adapt their work as long as credit is given and this new work is also under the same specified licensing. This means that this modified work would also be available to others under the CC BY-SA license in the same manner in which others would be allowed to modify your work.

Creative Commons by No Derivs (CC BY-ND) lets others use the original work however they wish, including for commercial purposes, as long as they don’t transform or modify it and give credit. You can resize the image or export the file to a different format, such as converting it from .text to .pdf, but you can’t change it through recoloring or adding onto it.

Creative Commons by Non-Commercial (CC BY-NC) lets others use the original work however they wish as long as it isn’t for commercial purposes. Even if people modify the original product, it cannot be for commercial use, but they can also license this new product under different restrictions or licensing agreements, although, there would have to be some substantial changes made to the original work.

Creative Commons by Non-Commercial Share Alike (CC BY-NC-SA) is the same as CC BY-SA, however, the use of the product (original or modified) cannot be for commercial use.

Creative Commons by Non-Commercial No Derivs (CC BY-NC-ND) is the same as CC By-ND, however, the use of the product cannot be for commercial use.

Just because a work is available in a Creative Commons license, doesn’t mean the work is Public Domain or that no one owns the copyright. Even if a work is labeled with these CC licenses, it’s always better to look into the licensor’s licensing agreements since something may be labeled as one of these, but may still have specific restrictions through a separate or supplemental agreement. For example, the creator of the fetus photo may have the CC BY license attached to it but also attaches an additional license to disallow the use of it for anti-abortion, pro-abortion, or both arguments, instead only allowing the photo to be used for educational purposes and not moral, ethical, or political debates.

Fair Use and Transformative Works Allows Me to Use Copyrighted and Restricted Works, Right? Even Without Permission?

Technically yes, but with severe limitations. Fair Use is an exception to copyright in which other people can use a limited portion of a work in order to add value and a new interpretation to it in which it wouldn’t harm the copyright holder’s income or inhibit traffic to their work. As for how much of a limited portion would be acceptable is a case-by-case basis. It’s not always 30 seconds, 10 percent, 25 words, 100 copies, or some other rule with an arbitrary number. While you don’t technically need permission, it would be safer if you did, and you still need to credit them with full attributions. Fair Use doesn’t protect you from going to court. You may think you’re adhering to the Fair Use exceptions, but a judge in a civil lawsuit may disagree.

The Bottom Line

Asking permission from the copyright owner is always your safest bet, and even if something is under a CC license, asking the licensor to clarify their conditions and stipulations by providing how you would like to use their work would more than help you keep you safe from a needless lawsuit.

Your age won’t protect you.

Giving credit won’t protect you.

Claiming Fair Use won’t always protect you.

Non-commercial use of something won’t protect you.

Just because this work is widespread over the internet, that won’t protect you if you get sued for using it.

You may take down the offending work after receiving a DMCA, but, if not handling it formally or within a timely manner, the damages may be so great that the copyright holder still takes you to court to collect reparations.

If you enjoyed something so much that you want to share it, link it or use the share button. Don't repost it to your content.

Until you have a better understanding of copyright and licensing, I would err on the side of either not using copyrighted works or asking and receiving permission first before using something.
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