A sign above some of the photo copiers on the Brigham Young University asks a profound, yet simple question: "Are you copy-righteous?"Today's post addresses how copyright is important to the Church but also how Church members need to protect others' copyright in how we use their work, especially in our Church responsibilities.
Stephen McIntyre, a scholar from Duke, spoke on copyright at the recent Mormon Media Studies Symposium.
Brother McIntyre discussed more of his research that showed that throughout history, copyright was a way to guard Mormon texts from alteration by enemies.
"Copyright law had existed for 121 years by the year 1830," Brother McIntyre said. "It has been relevant for every Mormon text ever published."
Copyright law in the United States gives the copyright to the author. The law states that the copyright holder, the author, is the only person legally allowed to reproduce, display or perform the work. This right lasts the life of the author plus an additional 70 years.
"Whenever LDS copyright has failed, non-Mormons have twisted their publications to challenge the LDS teachings and authority."
So, how can we make sure we are being copyrighteous? Below, I've collected some links that should be helpful. I'm not trying to give you legal advice but I feel I must make that disclaimer. I just hope they are helpful.
Naturally the Handbook of Instructions should probably be our primary resource. See 21.1.12 Copyrighted Materials. It's Question and Answer format should be helpful. The section on the Public Affairs web site entitled Respecting and Protecting Copyrights is also useful.
The Church is worldwide but copyright laws vary from country to country and sometimes from media to media. Special restrictions apply to music in this country, for example.
Copyright law is different for journalists and educators. You probably don't need to learn all the ins and outs. Copyright law can be enormously complex. But, with the instructions the Church has provided us with we should be able to function in our callings legally.
Other resources exist for those who want to go into it in more detail. The federal government has created a portal for it. Various tutorials and courses from educational institutions online can also be helpful.
Copyright can be restrictive. The Creative Commons is devoted to helping people share and distribute their copyrighted works sometimes under less restrictive conditions.
The Church cautions us:
Church members should strictly observe all copyright laws. Generally, only copyright owners may authorize duplication (copying), distribution, public performance, public display, or derivatives of their work. Using a work in any of these ways without authorization from the copyright owner is contrary to Church policy and may also subject the Church or the user to legal liability.So, let's make sure we are copyrighteous.