Think you know about intellectual property? Let's find out!
Eddie doodles in the margin of his notebook during class. Are his doodles protected by intellectual property laws?
That's right! Even doodles as original expressions are protected.id="q1b">
So wrong. Try again.
Carlos took a photograph to use for his band's CD cover. Does this mean he owns copyright on the photograph?
Yup! He took the picture, it's for him and his band, and as soon as his original work is in tangible form, it's his.id="q2b">
Too bad—you are incorrect. Try again.
Can Carlos post notes that he took in class on his web site?
Hmmm.....tricky question. Nobody's really 100% sure yet. This area is being contested and is still unsettled. The moral of the story is—things are not necessarily always going to be clear-cut.
Walking around campus, Eddie notices that a lot of students sport UCLA t-shirts, sweatshirts, caps, and more. The entrepreneur in him surfaces and he decides to take images of various UCLA logos off the web, stick them on really cheap t-shirts, sweatshirts, etc., and make some extra cash. Can he legally do this?
Awww...you got it wrong. Try again.id="q4b">
Right, Eddie would probably end up in the slammer if he made a lot of money counterfeiting UCLA products. Using registered trademarks without permission would get him in a lot of trouble. In fact, he would not only be violating the law, he would also be violating "UCLA Policy 110: Use of the University's Names, Seals and Trademarks" which states:
"The 'UCLA' trademarks are the exclusive property of the Regents of the University of California. The marks include any trademark, service mark, name, logo, insignia, seal, design, or other symbol or device associated with or referring to UCLA. Besides California State Law, and common law rights, 'UCLA,' 'UCLA Bruins,' 'University of California Los Angeles,' and the UCLA unofficial Seal are protected by federal and international intellectual property law."
(For more, see "Trademarks" page 10).
Carlos just bought his course reader for one his classes. Is it OK for him to scan the articles and post them on his web site so his classmates don't have to shell out the money too?
Oh, so wrong. Try again.id="q5b">
Right! This does not fall into the fair use category, and in fact violates 3 of 4 fair use criteria. Carlos can't do anything he wants just because it's related to school.
If Eddie is looking at something on the web and he doesn't see ©, ®,™, or a statement that what he's looking at is copyrighted or a registered trademark, is it available for the public to use freely?
Nope. Try again..id="q6b">
Try again.id="q6c"> class="box-in-box">
Is It Copyright Protected?
That's right—"c" is most likely the right answer on a multiple choice question, and yes, it does depend. If what he's looking at is federal government information, he can use it. For example, this section quotes the law and some information from the US Copyright Office, but we didn't have to ask permission or pay the government.
If what Eddie's looking at is really old (pre-1923) or isn't eligible for copyright protection and is in the public domain, he can freely use it. So, if a movie company wants to make a movie based on an old fairy tale that's in the public domain, they can.
If it isn't government information or otherwise in the public domain, Eddie should assume something is copyrighted even if he doesn't see a symbol or statement.
However, parodying copyrighted material is usually OK—if what Eddie is doing falls under fair use, he should be OK.
Intellectual property laws are very complicated and are constantly evolving, now more than ever with the advent of digital media. The information provided in this tutorial is meant only as a brief introduction. If you'd like to explore the topic further, see the Explore More section. If you'd like legal advice, speak with an attorney who specializes in intellectual property law.