by Yobeth Puckett
Piracy, copyright infringement, unauthorized use, reproduction of another's work, plagiarism, and the list goes on. We frequently see news reports of companies copying a legitimate website/product to make a fake website/product and steal sales. We can probably all agree that's not right and it's not fair!
People often dream of coming up with the next hugely successful company or product. But how would you feel if you had a great idea for a new product, you labored over it, spent all your time and money to bring it to market only to have the idea stolen. Someone else loves your idea too! But they're lazy. They decide to replicate it or in the case of digital designs they just download it, repackage and sell it under their own name.
Intellectual property is defined as a work or invention that is the result of creativity, such as a manuscript, film or design, to which one has rights and may apply for a patent, copyright, trademark, etc. A copyright gives the originator the exclusive legal right to the intellectual properties use and the right to authorize others use of the property as well.
No Piracy insert as seen in many digital products.
The use of intellectual property seems to be a muddy area for many people. It's not uncommon for people to download pictures & clip art to use in a layout but just because something is available online doesn't mean it's right or legal to download it.
Of course, some things fall into the "public domain" category either because they're not copyrightable, the copyright has expired or the creator has assigned them as such. Public domain material is not restricted by copyright so they're free to use, no license required. Titles, phrases, slogans and such are not copyrightable. Neither are items of fact or government works and documents. There are web sites that are great public domain resources for books, images, illustrations, audio and films.
Movie Night kit used with permission by Kimeric Kreations
But what about music or movies? Really? I don't think you need to ask! Everything made to promote your child's favorite movie is designed for your child to want, you to BUY and the production company to make money. But wait, you say, sometimes designers make things that are super cute to give away as a freebie! That's okay, right? Sure it's okay, if the designer is using original work made to coordinate or complement the characters or theme of the movie. It's not okay if they steal original work, downloaded directly from the movie website, to make anything. It doesn't matter whether it's free or for profit! These large companies do not tend to sell licenses or give permission to use their products. They retain all rights.
I recently downloaded a free product a designer made using images that were obviously snagged from a web page. I downloaded it because I wanted to see if she gave credit or had somehow gotten a license to use the images. There was no mention that she was using copyrighted images, however, she did include her own TOU. Among other things, she specified the items were for personal use only and to give HER credit if anything made using the product is used online or submitted to any publication. Wow! In case you're wondering, I deleted the product from my computer. I don't support piracy!
Piracy is definitely a global problem. The world wide web has broken down boundaries and made it so easy to steal other people's work. I can only say, if you see designs that are obviously stolen, don't pretend it's okay, it's not. Don't excuse it by saying it's okay because it's free. If the item were more tangible, a car for example, you probably, hopefully, wouldn't think it was okay to keep a stolen car. Even if someone gave it to you! Not only is it wrong, it's illegal to possess a stolen car. The only one with any legal rights to the car is the car's owner.
I define good character as doing the right thing even when no one is watching. Don't spoil your good character by stealing something simply because it's easy & no one is watching. Don't support or defend people that do. Some people try to make this a grey area but it's really quite clear. Stealing is wrong and if you agree, then don't do it yourself! Piracy is stealing. Piracy is NOT okay!