||Most people would not put
unlicensed software on their computer. Yet, many people do not think twice
about photocopying articles or newsletters. Almost any time that you photocopy
an article from a trade magazine, a conference presentation or any other
copyright-protected work, your organization faces the challenge of ensuring
copyright compliance. Though unintentional, in photocopying these works
you may in fact be violating copyright law.
When it comes to photocopying copyright-protected works in the course of
business, several federal courts and thousands of American companies agree
that most such photocopying requires a license from the copyright holder.
Copyright law allows copyright holders to sue offenders for damages or to
recoup lost profits as a result of infringement. For businesses, the cost
of copyright infringement can come in many forms, including attorneys’
fees, potential loss of assets, negative publicity, and loss of public trust
and goodwill. For companies such as Kinko’s and Texaco, which faced
legal action against them, unlawful photocopying cost them millions of dollars.
Education, awareness and access to convenient means to obtain copyright
permission are the best ways to ensure that your organization is doing the
right thing with regard to copyright law. Unless you and your colleagues
understand when and how to obtain permission to re-use and distribute copyright-protected
information, you cannot be sure that your organization is copyright compliant.
Examples of photocopy re-use that may require copyright
||Photocopying a trade magazine article to
share with your colleagues.
||Photocopying an analyst or research report to distribute
to customers or prospects.
||Photocopying competitive literature to distribute to
your sales force.
||Purchasing a single subscription to a publication or
newsletter and photocopying it for distribution company-wide.
|All of the cases above would usually be
considered infringement under copyright law unless you first obtained
permission from the copyright holder.
By complying with copyright law, everyone wins. Copyright
holders who create the content receive fair compensation and control over
their work. Organizations benefit, gaining access to the valuable information
they need to be competitive, while demonstrating lawful, ethical business
Reports, Inc. v. Legg Mason, Inc.
In October 2003, a Baltimore federal district court jury ordered
financial services firm Legg Mason to pay $20 million in a civil
copyright lawsuit. The suit alleged that for a decade or more Legg
Mason purchased a single subscription to Lowry’s Reports’
Lowry's Market Trend Analysis for approximately $700 a year
and then distributed copies of each report by fax, e-mail or intranet
to as many as 1,300 Legg Mason stockbrokers and favored clients.
American Geophysical Union v. Texaco Inc.
In a 1995 settlement with six publishers Texaco paid out a seven
figure settlement after litigating only one issue–whether
it is fair use for a company researcher to systematically make copies
of interesting scientific articles without obtaining permission
from the copyright holders. The case highlighted “fair use”
in corporations, as the court distinguished spontaneous copying
by a researcher related to a current specific project or a teacher’s
copying for non-profit classroom use, from the copying of materials
to be added to an office library. As part of the settlement, Texaco
agreed to purchase a license, retroactively, from Copyright Clearance
Center and maintain that license for five years.
Basic Books, Inc. v. Kinko's Graphics
In 1991, eight book publishers sued Kinko’s Graphics Corporation
for copyright infringement. The suit alleged that, in photocopying
copyright-protected materials to create university course packs,
Kinko’s infringed on the publishers’ copyrights. Kinko’s
unauthorized copying covered a wide range of materials, including
text, trade and professional books. Kinko’s argued “fair
use,” but the court disagreed. All told, Kinko’s paid
almost $2 million in damages, fees and other costs.