The internet has quickly become the one stop shop for entertainment, communication, information resources and material. The problem is that most internet users, who are not well informed on the issue, tend to think that they can do anything on the internet without any consequences. People are so absorbed in their search for entertainment and knowledge that they forget that these internet resources have owners. Many internet users end up breaking copyright laws while using resources found in the internet; most times without knowing they have violated any laws at all. In fact, many people believe that copyright rules do not affect them. If you are an internet user, you need to be informed that copyright laws are there and need to be followed.
For those who are aware of copyright laws, they tend to be more careful and look out for the copyright notice. But what if there is no notice? Many people make the mistake of thinking that if there is no notice then the material is not copyrighted. Lack of this notice on internet resources is not a free license to take, copy, post or use anything that is found on the internet for personal or commercial gain.
This is not to say there aren’t free things on the internet you can use. There is a lot of material whose owner has given their permission to be used freely by the public. In such a case, you can freely go around using, taking or copying the item without recognizing the source. It is recommended that if you want to use some work on the internet, you contact the author for their permission first. Most of the time, permission is granted without you having to pay a dime. By asking politely, you do not only gain permission to use the work, you earn the respect of the author and most importantly, you avoid violating copyright laws.
As an internet user, should not use materials from the internet on your own works without letting the owner know. Don’t assume that because you are not going to charge for the new works created from the copyrighted material that you are safe. Although the damages you could be required to pay for works you charged for can be significantly higher, you can still pay damages even if you didn’t charge for the copyrighted item.
Also, don’t assume that works that have been posted on public sites are free to use. If the owner wants the public to use his works, he will usually say so. If you do not see such a note, don’t take anything for granted. The fact that the work is on a public site doesn’t necessarily grant you the permission to use it without the owner’s permission.
If you do, you may be liable for damages caused to the owner of the copyright material. Copyright laws can be scary for those of you that don’t deal with them on a daily basis, but with a little bit of research and common sense, you can circumvent the side of copyright law which you don’t really want to be a part of . . . remember to always ask for permission and you can save yourself a lot of trouble.
Here’s a few resources that can help you get started:
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