A Guide to Copyright Law

Copyright laws allow artists and individuals to protect their intellectual property from the exploitation of others. It is also a balancing act; while the rights of the creator must be protected, the right to fair use of the copyright material must be upheld as well. For example, musicians can protect their music from being used by others and ensure the profits generated by their intellectual property are given to them. On the other hand, what if the film for a documentary inadvertently catches a popular song on the radio playing in the background? Can the band and their record company charge the documentary producer for using the song, even if it was only accidental?

The balance of copyright and fair use is discussed in the entertaining comic Tales from the Public Domain: BOUND BY LAW? It is not informative and very helpful in understanding copyright. Here at the CoolClimate Network, we have to avoid using images that are protected under copyright laws in things such as our newsletter. This makes it somewhat difficult to create publications and material that is aesthetically pleasing. Therefore, most of our images are taken by our staff, or used at the explicit consent of the photographer. This ensures that we protect the CCN from possible copyright litigation, and also allows us to pursue our budding photography careers.