IP Law and Internet Idiots by Amie Gibbons
(Usual disclaimer, nothing in here is meant to be taken as legal advice. These are all generalities and some flair because I’m feeling dramatic today. You have a specific question, go hire a lawyer.)
*Puts the lawyer hat and melodramatic, somehow coming out like a preacher’s tone on.*
Ladies and gentlemen of the internet, I present to you a pickle, nae, a quandary. I ask of you to stop, and think before you ink.
For we have a demon amongst us and that demon’s name is ignorance. He has a big mouth, no idea what he’s talking about and no clue just how stupid the rest of us think he is.
But oh, you say, this demon is no threat for truly the village knows the idiot.
This is the quandary, for the villagers know the idiot, but this thing we call the internet has allowed the idiot to travel far beyond the walls of his humble home and spread his message far and wide.
The idiot will tell you, you can post anything from the internet to the internet and it will be righteous. I tell you, dear peoples of the internet, it is not. For the higher law of the copyright prevails over the wisdom of the masses. He will tell you fair use will protect you, but nae, it will not, for fair use is merely a defense, and you will have to spend your precious gold proving that defense in court because it is what we call an affirmative defense, meaning once your accuser proves you did indeed violate copyright, then you must prove your defense.
And what is this defense? The idiot will say it is available to all who innocently post on the internet. And here, he leads you down a false path, for it is not. Fair use has metrics to weigh your guilt, the greatest of which is whether your use may bring you in gold. Even if it does not, it may cost the rights holder, and there, my good folk, lies their argument.
He will tell you a picture on the internet will never be traced, and this is not true. The world of blogs is littered with horror stories of bloggers sued for using a picture that was not theirs to use. He will tell you that you must file officially to obtain a copyright. Oh, poor innocent of the internet, he leads you astray, for a work has the copyright as soon as it is made.
The idiot will tell you he can take a forum, a website, a domain name and it would be looked upon favorably for these things do not exist in the world of flesh and wood, and he would be wrong. The power in the idea can not be so contained and it too is protected by the great power of IP.
The internet idiot will tell you that you can use anyone’s creation, so long as it is on the internet and not protected by this law of copy. And he would be wrong. For the law of trademark sits with her brother copyright, and she is a far less tangible creature. The power she presides over lies in the name, and what is in a name, but power over the creation?
The name is not the end of this, oh no, copyright’s and trademark’s strange cousin, brother to the patent, is the trade secret, and he also wants his say. If the power is not in the name, nor in the design, but in the utility, it is in the realm of patent and trade secret. If the power comes from the secrecy, it is under trade secret’s domain.
And he wields strange powers. He can turn a simple list of clients into gold, a recipe into an empire, and he can come down with the power of his brethren, though he is far less known.
So beware, good people of the internet, the village idiot has traveled amongst us for far too long, and his lies have spun a web in which many an innocent poster has languished.
And it has cost them much time and gold.
(Okay, got a little silly with that one, couldn’t help it. And don’t forget to check out my latest novel about silly psychic Ariana Ryder, Psycho (and Psychic) Games.)