Author Topic: Copyright Laws  (Read 3161 times)

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Offline airman00Topic starter

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Copyright Laws
« on: May 22, 2008, 05:39:17 PM »
I wanted to start this topic as a place where people can share what they know of copyright laws relating to robotics and electronics.

So please , whatever you know SHARE!!!

I'm researching the topic now as well as watching an MIT opencourse ware video on it.


Once I get enough information and I validate all the info , I'll compile a nice easy to read member tutorial on it.

,Eric
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Offline Rand alThor

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Re: Copyright Laws
« Reply #1 on: June 14, 2008, 03:37:44 PM »
Well, I don't know much about copyright laws for electronics, but I do know some of the general rules of the copyright monster:

1) If you write it, you own copyrights to it. Should your claim to the copyrights to the (picture, painting, book, article, whatever) become disputed, like if someone writes a book that uses elements from your book (like races, inventions, factions, etc. that YOU invented), and you say you came up with it first, then you have to prove it. To prove it, it either has to be registered with the state (or maybe the feds), or you have to have mailed it to yourself, because the time-date postage stamps when they get processed (that's how company's know WHEN you sent in your gas payment, or at least, when it went through the postage system)

2) So it's kinda like patenting, except for written things.

So I'm guessing that if you mail the schematics for the robot/Design/electronic ma-bob, you should be covered.

Also, I should have you know that, at least with patents, it's possible, but difficult and expensive, to reclaim patents that were stolen while you were on the way to the patent office. For example, theifs took the designs to the cotton gin, but its original inventor somehow,, through stressful nights and a lot of lawsuits, got his patent rights back. Google it.

Oh crap, I just forgot. Which country do you live in? I only know about the U.S.'s copyright laws... I don't think that they're international.

Offline AndrewM

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Re: Copyright Laws
« Reply #2 on: June 14, 2008, 10:22:41 PM »
Actually that whole mailing thing is not true, it only can provide a date of creation, but no protection.  The first part is true though, if you create it, you can claim it as copyrighten material.  But if someone uses the material (infringes your copyright), at least in the U.S., if you have not filed an official copyright notice you can not file any type of suit against the infringer.  The same holds true for trade and service marks.
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Offline airman00Topic starter

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Re: Copyright Laws
« Reply #3 on: June 14, 2008, 10:24:27 PM »
what do you mean by an official copyright notice?
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Offline AndrewM

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Re: Copyright Laws
« Reply #4 on: June 14, 2008, 10:31:57 PM »
Official notice with the US Copyright Office, in the case of copyrightable material.  Its a form and a fee basically.  The fee depends upon the type of work being provided copyright protection.  In the case of Patents and Trade/service marks, you file with the US Patent and Trademark Office.

The digital millenium copyright act also increased the protection provided by copyright filing, or rather increased the maximum fee and jail time for copyright infringement.

Here's some basic info for you on copyrights (make sure you read down to the "Copyright Registration" section):

http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ1.html
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Offline AndrewM

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Re: Copyright Laws
« Reply #5 on: June 14, 2008, 10:46:14 PM »
One other thought, because what falls into each category might get confusing.  A schematic, or even block diagram, would fall under patent laws; unless you were claiming it as a work of art or some such thing.  An uncompiled program would fall under copyright laws. 

An algorithm could fall under both patent and copyright, however you would want to file the patent first as once something is published in most countries (except the US) the work is inelligible for patent status.  In the US I believe you have 18months(could be 12) to file for patent protection after the date of first publication.  When an item is copyrighten, it gets published to the Library of Congress, thus starting the clock ticking.  Also, 18 months after you file a patent in the US it is also published.  Meaning you have 18 months from US filing to get any international patents needed before it become inelligible.  The US has also added the provisional patent, that is basically used to create a patent filed date of now, without having to get the whole patent registration process completed right away (you have 12 months from provisional filing to file the actual patent, but the protection date starts at the provisional filing date)

And the name "Chives" as a robot falls under trademark law.

Anyone confused yet (beside me)?
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Offline airman00Topic starter

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Re: Copyright Laws
« Reply #6 on: June 14, 2008, 11:15:35 PM »
I'm confused


do I need to file anything in order to copyright something . Like lets just use Chives as an example. What exactly is that project's copyright status, i didn't file anything but I have published documentation.
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Offline AndrewM

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Re: Copyright Laws
« Reply #7 on: June 15, 2008, 08:24:27 AM »
For the most part no, you do not need to file anything (you do not even need to publish it).  Your "Chives" tutorial writeup has copyright protection the moment you wrote it.  You do not even need to include a copyright notice on the article (Copyright 2008, Eric, blah blah), although *not* having a copyright notice on it allows me the excuse of saying "I didn't know it was copyrighten when I submitted it to Instructables and won the trip to RobotGames".

The federal filing for copyright protection is used to cement your protection status for the work.  If you do not file federally you can not sue someone for infringement.  You can however make claim of copyright violation and the person who used your work without permission (if found guilty) could be subject to $500,000 in fines and 10 years in prison.
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Offline airman00Topic starter

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Re: Copyright Laws
« Reply #8 on: June 15, 2008, 08:31:54 AM »
I see , time to put copyright notices on everything , lol

Federal filing can be done after someone infinges on it , right?

By the way, after this entire discussion is done and I'm all sorted in my mind with all this copyright business, ill write up a little tutorial on my blog
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Offline AndrewM

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Re: Copyright Laws
« Reply #9 on: June 15, 2008, 08:44:37 AM »
Federal filing can be done after someone infinges on it , right?

Yes.  Although if you ever plan on suing someone over your work you want to file a federal copyright notice pretty much the moment you publish the work, otherwise you are limited in what you can sue for.
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Offline airman00Topic starter

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Re: Copyright Laws
« Reply #10 on: June 15, 2008, 09:58:46 AM »
how do you file a federal copyright notice? is there like an online thing or something
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Offline AndrewM

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Re: Copyright Laws
« Reply #11 on: June 15, 2008, 10:52:44 AM »
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Offline airman00Topic starter

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Re: Copyright Laws
« Reply #12 on: June 15, 2008, 11:04:15 AM »
cool stuff

how do you know all of this andrew?
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Offline AndrewM

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Re: Copyright Laws
« Reply #13 on: June 15, 2008, 09:54:22 PM »
I've had a few literary works published requiring copyright filing, I am also part owner of an art gallery with all the pieces needing copyright filings, I have my own software company so filed both service mark and trademarks, and have a patent pending for a robotic device I co-invented.  I hate paying money to lawyers (my brother is one), so I do all the filings myself.
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Offline Admin

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Re: Copyright Laws
« Reply #14 on: June 21, 2008, 11:30:54 AM »
If you can't afford a lawyer, your copyright is meaningless. ;D

How much do they cost? ~$200/hour . . .

Offline Rand alThor

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Re: Copyright Laws
« Reply #15 on: June 21, 2008, 09:34:02 PM »
Yeah, but if you don't tell anybody, the world will never know... ;D

Offline airman00Topic starter

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Re: Copyright Laws
« Reply #16 on: June 21, 2008, 10:31:25 PM »
so wats the difference between patenting and copyrighting?
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Offline AndrewM

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Re: Copyright Laws
« Reply #17 on: June 22, 2008, 12:42:36 AM »
If you are suing for copyright violation, you can afford a lawyer.  As long as you filed the copyright prior to the infringement, you are entitled to compensation for legal fees (plus damages and infringement costs, ie loss of revenue)  ;D

Patents and copyrights (for that matter trade/service marks) are all intellectual property protections.  In a nutshell, a patent is designed to protect an invention, while a copyright protects a work of authorship.  Here's a link that describes each:  http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/pac/doc/general/index.html#ptsc
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