Wednesday, November 5, 2008

But I Wrote a Disclaimer!

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“But I promise it’s okay as long you write a disclaimer.”

My eleven-year-old computer genius had learned how to make videos of her favorite anime—a form of animation invented by the Japanese—and was asking my permission to add background music.

She’s not the only person who believes as long as you write a statement, a disclaimer as she called it, letting others know the music or words are not yours, you are okay from a legal standpoint.

Disclaimer or no, it’s NOT okay. She didn’t know it, but she was asking my permission to break the law.

Kids aren’t the only ones stumbling over copyright laws…in these days of the blogosphere, many adults make the same mistake Addy did.

Do your children have a YouTube or similar account? Do they have a Neopets page?
Many do. Yes, many use copyrighted songs, lyrics, words to create their videos and personalize profiles or web pages. Some know they are breaking the law, but many—like our children—do not.

Not too long ago, YouTube took a stand after getting heat from the big boys (movie studios, music empires and the lot) and removed over 30,000 videos found to be in violation of copyright laws. Complete accounts were deleted with the punishment of being banned from YouTube forever.

What is considered legal for fair use, meaning NOT copyrighted? It’s a short list. And the list might surprise you.

1. Videos made with royalty free music. This means you probably pay a one-time fee. However, you can find free offerings, like radio programs use.2. Videos made with non-copyrighted music. This means you made it yourself.3. Videos made with copyrighted music by permission. This means you paid or permission was granted by owner.

If your child wants to add a snippet from one of their favorite songs playing on the radio, that would be a major violation.

Are you thinking what's the harm?
Using copyrighted material is stealing. The entertainment industry isn't taking it lightly. Yes, they can sue for damages, even if you didn’t understand the copyright laws. Think it wouldn't happen to you or your child? Think again.

A new trend ... although, I suggest you don't take it as a license to "do it anyway" … is entertainment conglomerates like: Universal Music Group, CBS, Lions Gate, Electronic Arts and others are not asking YouTube to remove videos violating copyrights owned by them.

Instead, they are swapping advertising.

According to an article written in the New York Times by Brian Stelter some key players aren't condoning use of their intellectual property, but they also don’t want to play police. What they want is to earn money on the stuff they own. Sounds reasonable to me.

Convinced yet?

It took me a little longer to convince Addy. I printed off the article mentioned above. I printed off the directions on YouTube—very good stuff, by the way (

That little handy dandy list produced by YouTube helped me squelch the disclaimer talk once and for all. And I quote: “It doesn't matter whether or not you give credit to the owner/author/songwriter.” Doesn’t matter if you are on a train, in a tree or in a car … Doesn’t matter if you call it a disclaimer, an attachment or a credit, “it is still copyrighted.”
If your child is heartbroken by the news, help them find royalty-free music sites. It’s not as exciting.

No there will be no rocking out with Nickelback or Kid Rock, but there are plenty of legal ways to do that—with an Ipod or a CD.