Copyright Laws: User Rights

In the last article we spent the time talking about owner rights but I intentionally other rights that the public has but for time-saving I’ve decided to write more about those in the final article.

Today we’re going to be speaking about your rights, specifically user rights.

User rights are essentially the rights you are given to use another work[1]. This does not necessarily mean that you are free to do whatever you want, rather it means that you are entitled to certain privileges within certain limits.

I will mention that I did talk about these terms of use in the last article but today we’ll be speaking more about it with some more concrete information. As a reminder the terms are:

  • Research,
  • private study,
  • criticism,
  • review,
  • news reporting.

First, we’ll discuss research.

Research is simple in itself in that if the person requires the use of a piece of research then they can use it. Provided that there is no suitable alternative to said research. This can have some complications though. Say for instance you want to use one that is a better quality in terms of writing and depth but there is another research that gives the same results but is worse in those same terms. Does copyright law prohibit the use of using the better quality research because an alternative (albeit worse) exists? Yes and no. If you choose to use the better quality research but choose to copy or redistribute it then you’ve infringed. Instead, think of it as using that research in one of two ways. The researcher can use it with the view that it must be peer reviewed (essentially proving the research works in anothers trial) or used to improve your own work. As long as the source is not copied and re-used under anyone but the owner, infringement has not occurred.

Second, private study.

Private study is when a person uses and copies anothers work for “private” study. That means you must never copy with the purpose of distributing. This was problematic for teachers because of that very reason[2]. How can they teach their students about something that they had no chance of showing them especially if it came from an easily accessible, but copyrighted document. This is where the Supreme Court of Canada (2012) came in. The court recognized that teachers are needed to teach so they can’t be restricted to not be there to provide instruction for their students. This allowed them to create the exception to the private study rule for teachers allowing teachers to copy short excerpts of copyrighted work as class handouts which we should recognize as common today. Another comment the Court made was that teacher and student were symbiotic in that they both worked together to engage in research and private study. But, this doesn’t mean the teacher can copy whatever work without consent, there are still conditions which much be followed[3].

Third, criticism.

Criticism is understood to be someone either speaking logically or illogically about a work that they to provide feedback too. Lets take a news panel for instance and assume that they are speaking about a water pipe burst.

For the purposes of this let’s assume that news outlets have no news reporting rights and they have the same rights as regular citizens.

The owner of a home had their pipe burst and decided to record a video of it. Then he proceeded to fix the burst alone and failed miserably. After recording it was posted on their personal website. According to copyright law, as soon as the video was made it was automatically put under the protection of copyright law. Now we introduce your local news network, lets call it XBS. They come along looking for a story and happen upon the pipe burst video. They download it and then create their own video criticizing it on how the owner made this and that mistake and how it should have properly been fixed. That is a form of critique. Critique can be done in many other ways of course but it always has to be done with the source in mind. A ten-second clip of a pipe burst and then speaking about how pipes are made for the rest of a thirty-minute video wouldn’t constitute as critique.

Fourth, review.

This is fairly straightforward. For the easiest to understand explaination lets use movies. Reviews and critique are generally the same but because reviews covers a broad range of things it is what we see the most. Lets use the Avengers movie for instance. In most cases a person can’t cut a scene from a movie without facing legal challenges but in the case of review it can be done. If someone cuts the battle scene with the Chitauri out and decides to talk about how wonderful or terrible the scene was while it was playing on screen then there is the review[4]. Like criticism it must be directed at the source of the clip you are playing otherwise infringement of copyright law has be done.

Finally, news reporting.

Simply put, this means that news outlets can use anothers copyrighted work in their stories. This doesn’t mean they have the exclusive right to own and republish your work but rather it means they can use your work as a feature to inform the public about something they may not otherwise have ever known about. Of course the work must always be credited to the owner, not in monetary form but either in verbal or written form near or on the broadcast.

As you may guess there is definitely more that can be done to make user rights more friendly to the average consumer. Taking for instance that brand names and logo’s are everywhere and every recording you’ll ever make while vlogging will most likely feature one or more logo does that mean you’ve infringed copyright? Logically speaking no. But some people and courts may have something to say about that just because the copyright laws haven’t kept pace with the sheer immensity of businesses advertising everywhere[5].

We can also use videos like lets plays or walkthrough’s for instance.

In both instances, using gameplay and recording that gameplay to make your videos and likely posting it on youtube. The game under law says that once you purchase it you are free to do with it as you see fit assuming you don’t significantly affect the bottom line of the company or persons. But why then are we not allowed to show cutscenes in the game? Why does some companies like Nintendo for instance want you to remove the games they created from youtube or suffer by losing your ad revenue to them? This is where the copyright laws tend to trail off. This is the result of copyright laws not keeping pacing with progression of technology and availability.

Of course there are your advocates who fight to make sure that the laws are not violating user rights[6]. Like the creative commons for instance where you designated the terms of your work and place that label with your work and essentially you can do whatever you want with the work assuming you follow the terms. This is the starting point, just like the previous starting point was the Berne Convention. The laws has a ways to catch up but likely because of advocates and others who are pushing for user rights to not be violated we can eventually see the freer, collaborative, open world all we want.

[1]User rights: uToronto
[2]Fair Dealing Requirements for UBC Faculty and Staff
[3]Private Copying:
[4]The Avengers Movie Review: Beyond The Trailer
[5]Why Do TV Shows and Movies Cover Up Logos?


Copyright Laws: What Are Owner Rights

To be able to understand what your rights are, you first have to understand what the owner of the works rights are first.

So to begin lets say that the owner does have a say on the terms of use but I will stress this, “there are exceptions to the control of the owner.” Continue reading

Copyright Laws: Yes, You’ve Broken It

Disclaimer: This is the work of “insert creator” and all rights go to “insert creator.”

Recognize this?

I’m sure the millions, possibly billions of you who frequent video sharing services (youtube) do. Lets just say that adding that disclaimer to the top doesn’t do anything except prove you know the content isn’t yours and that you’ve taken it without permission.

Well done you’ve just infringed copyright laws.

Continue reading

Eyes staring past a computer screen

The Thing about Trolls

The one thing we can all agree on is that trolls are annoying and a waste of space.

Since the release of the internet, trolls have slowly made their way in. Attaching themselves to forums and most recently social media and comment boards. Do trolls themselves have a certain set of personality traits that create this type of person? Why do they constantly seek to be cruel and hurt others? There are answers to everything and I’ll write about one now. Continue reading