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Zer Netmouse
September 2nd, 2007
09:27 am


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Tobias summarizes a topic very well. :)

(15 comments | Leave a comment)

Date:September 4th, 2007 02:40 pm (UTC)
the way copyright has been explained to me, it is my understanding that, yes, technically, it is a violation of copyright to mention a thing's title unless you are reviewing it (including "Yes, we have Passion's Reckless Flame in stock, sir. Would you like me to set it aside for you under an assumed name?"), quote it in your sig line, or have its cover in the background when you are posing for a photograph that you are showing publicly. This suggests to me that either we need less repellent 'splainers, because the way the law is being explained, stupid people like me can't understand them and think the above is the case, or laws that are reasonable.

Forgive the bluntness, but whoever explained it to you was either deeply ignorant or deliberately lying. Even if you're risk-averse about fair use, mentioning a title cannot -- ever -- be a violation of copyright. The other examples you give are also nuts, but not quite as moronic as the title claim. Wow.
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Date:September 4th, 2007 03:19 pm (UTC)
I certainly think you've got my point about feeling like I want to have a source I can trust explain things to me--- preferably with original language next to it, so I can see where it comes from and draw my own conclusions (I am a bit of an original-source snob). Yes, Anne and Elaine are correct: I should have done my own research before whinging, but it's been an extraordinarily busy weekend, and a fairly rigorous one academically.

As for blunt, I appreciate it. "I am but an egg."
Date:September 4th, 2007 03:44 pm (UTC)
Reviewing original sources on legal topics can take a lot of work, because you need to not only look at the statute itself (which is pretty easy) but at any court decisions which are relevant to your question and which the courts hearing it would be obligated to follow. I can point you to some web references, or I'm happy to talk about it the next time you're in Ann Arbor and we're in the same place. Some explanations are simple, others aren't. For example, here are the brief explanations of why the person who explained copyright to you is a fool:

* "it is a violation of copyright to mention a thing's title unless you are reviewing it" -- wrong, because the title of a work is not actually protected by copyright. (It could be protected by trademark, but unless it's something like _Mickey Mouse goes to Daffy Duck's House_, that is extremely unusual, and even then it would not be a trademark violation to mention its name either.) Holding this belief is not consistent with being capable of giving advice on intellectual property law.

* "quote it in your sig line" -- wrong, because (1) the use is _de minimis_, meaning too trivial for the law to recognize as an infringement, and (2) the damages the copyright holder could claim would be too small for them to get into federal court anyway, even if they could find a lawyer desperate enough to take the case. Holding this belief doesn't make someone an idiot, but it does suggest that one's paranoia has overcome one's common sense.

* "have its cover in the background when you are posing for a photograph that you are showing publicly" -- It is *just vaguely possible* that a really aggressive rights-holder could decide to test the limits of this if the cover image is shown clearly and you are using the photo in a high-profile commercial context. People have been sued over showing copyrighted images in the background of TV shows before, for example. This belief isn't exactly irrational, but it shouldn't be stated so broadly that people think that they can't pose in front of bookshelves or something.

There's a good page with a number of references here:

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