Sunday, 21 October 2012

Media Law, Lecture 3, Year Three - Copyright

For our third media law lecture we were joined by Peter Hodges. Peter is a  BBC legal expert with a fantastic knowledge in copyright and fair dealing.

First of all, it's worth defining what copyright is. Copyright is referred to as a 'branch of intellectual property', protecting the product of peoples skills, creativity, labour and time. Having a strong knowledge of copyright is vital for Journalists. On the WINOL news bulletin, for example, often a picture or video clip that we've used with permission will have to be accompanied with written text stating the source of the content.

When we use content on the bulletin that isn't ours, we make use of 'fair dealing'. This serves as an acceptable way of using video footage or pictures that we don't own the rights to. During the lecture, Peter clarified that using up to 2 minutes of video that isn't ours (accompanied with text noting the source) is generally acceptable. For my features piece of mobile gaming, I am also covered under fair dealing. As my feature makes use of copy written video content for the purpose of review, this is OK.

If you want your work to be protected under copyright law, then the work has to have been published in some way. During the lecture Peter pointed out that it's surprising how much can be copyright and to what extent. The lighting configuration for the Eiffel Tower at night, for example, is copy written. Even the song, 'Happy Birthday' is a copy written piece. An unusual but fascinating fact!


Picture: Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, the following are protected:

* Literary work
* Dramatic work
* Artistic work
* Musical work
* Sound recording
* Film
* Broadcast
* Typographical arrangement

When referring to news stories, it's important to note that there is in fact no copyright in facts, news, ideas or information. However, when news reporting, lifting facts from others papers may be infringement. This is because the writers and researchers of the paper where the information came from have input skill and labour into their report.

Publication without permission of a photograph of the whole or a substantial part of a television image is an infringement under Section 17 of the Copyright Act.

Last year, I wrote about the Hargreaves Report, which links closely to some of the issues we discussed in the lecture. That article can be found here:

http://tommorganwinchester.blogspot.co.uk/2011/05/hargreaves-report-aims-to-overhaul-uk.html

My post on the Pirate Bay last year also links well to the topic of copyright law:

http://tommorganwinchester.blogspot.co.uk/2011/09/pirate-bay-founders-have-change-of.html

Copyright in Speeches – Under Section 58 of the Act, it is not infringement to use the record of the words for reporting current events, subject to the conditions below:
  • The record is a direct record and not taken from a previous record or broadcast
  • The speaker did not prohibit in making of the record and it did not infringe any existing copyright
  • The use being made of the record, or material taken from it, was not of a kind prohibited by the speaker or copyright owner before the record was made
  • The use being made of the record is with the authority of the person who is lawfully in possession of it
Interestingly, there's no copyright infringement in reporting Parliament, the courts, or public inquiries.  Furthermore, there is normally no infringement in copying material which must be open to public inspection by Act of Parliament.

The length of time an individual holds copyright depends on a number of factors. Currently, for text, it's 70 years from the end of the year of the author's death. Broadcast, however, lasts for 50 years, as does music.

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