notes and ideas
May 13, 2000
On an international scale, this is a complex issue and
the Internet is making it even more complex.
Fortunately, there is one simple part of copyright law
we all agree on: "Thou shalt not steal." Buddhists would
say: "To refrain from taking what is not freely given."
Personally, I keep the saying of a meditation master
in mind when considering the matter: "If there is doubt in your
mind about whether it is right to do or not right to do, then don't
There is quite a lot of information about copyrights
available on the Internet. If you search the web using the keyword
"Copyright" you should be able to find the information you need.
To use copyrighted work you will need permission from
the holder of the copyright. You do not always have to pay for
permission. If your work is useful, often you can get permission to
use the material at no cost. They will tell you the conditions that apply.
Copyrights are automatic. You don't necessarily need
to register your work anywhere. You do need to indicate clearly that
the work is copyrighted. For instance, Copyright (c) 2000 Your Name -
All Rights Reserved.
Here is one tip about copyrights, well known to
authors and musicians. Put a copy of your work (both digital and
paper if possible) and mail it to yourself by registered mail. Do not
open the envelope when you get your own letter back. This should
provide you with sufficient evidence in the case of a dispute.
If you use material that is not copyrighted, it is
considered good manners to let them know that you are using their material.
If you are thinking about making your work available
"for free", a very useful copyright is the GNU
Whenever you make materials of any type, it is a good
idea to put a version number on the work!
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