Copyright as a Comic


We all know copyright laws are important. Definitely.

And we want to obey them, and to help our colleagues and patrons to do so as well. But it’s hard! It is federal law, and covers hundreds of years! (The first Copyright act was signed by George Washington in 1790.)

The consequences for violations of  copyright can be fearsome and expensive.

We are often expected to be the experts in copyright, and to help adjudicate the material for others. But the secret most of us harbor in our hearts is this: it’s just so confusing, too often we are guessing.

Whew! Everyone feel better now that we all know we ALL feel a lack of knowledge on this? Good!

Fortunately, there is information not only available but easily understandable! And it’s fun enough that you won’t mind sharing it to with patrons, Board members,  or anyone else who needs a quick refresher!

The Duke University’s Center for the Study of the Public Domain has produced a really good graphic novel that provides some great information: Bound by Law? Tales from the Public Domain.

“A documentary is being filmed. A cell phone rings, playing the “Rocky” theme song. The filmmaker is told she must pay $10,000 to clear the rights to the song. Can this be true? “Eyes on the Prize,” the great civil rights documentary, was pulled from circulation because the filmmakers’ rights to music and footage had expired. What’s going on here? It’s the collision of documentary filmmaking and intellectual property law, and it’s the inspiration for this new comic book. Follow its heroine Akiko as she films her documentary, and navigates the twists and turns of intellectual property. Why do we have copyrights? What’s “fair use”? Bound By Law reaches beyond documentary film to provide a commentary on the most pressing issues facing law, art, property and an increasingly digital world of remixed culture.”

They are working to distribute this to everyone who needs it. So there are free digital copies available to anyone. And you can buy paper copies, either as single copies or 25 or more at an educator’s discount.

Do you just want to spend a few minutes watching an entertaining, and educational, video on copyright? Sure! Why not??

This is a video that is NOT a copyright violation, due to it’s very (VERY!) brief usage of Disney moves to explain the basics of copyright law – including the role Disney has played in extending the laws.

Copyright is a huge issue in so many libraries today. CMLE Headquarters will help to organize some training on this issue, or to help libraries connect with each other to talk about the specific issues they are facing in their daily work. We will also periodically add material here to this site, so you can reference it when you need it.