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What are Copyright Restrictions?

Daphne Mallory
Daphne Mallory

Copyright restrictions are rules that pertain to how copyrighted material can or cannot be used by any person or entity other than the creator. A notice of copyright restrictions is often posted on the website that contains the work or on the work itself. Those who do not adhere to the restrictions may be liable for copyright infringement. Copyright restrictions are bound by copyright laws, and any restriction that goes beyond those laws is often considered invalid. The purpose of copyright restrictions is to protect the copyrights of the creator when shared publicly, as well as to ensure that the creator receives compensation for his or her work.

The main categories covered by copyright restrictions include commercial use, reproduction of work, and sometimes the type of license granted. Restrictions on commercial use pertain to obtaining written permission from the owner or creator of the work prior to utilizing it in the marketplace for profit. Reproduction of work for personal use is often permitted as long as the work is not modified and the source of the work is cited. Academic and research use have similar restrictions that require the proper citing and reference to the work. The creator may also allow copyrighted material to be used as long as he or she is given credit for the work, such as the creator's name, copyright date, and link to the creator’s website if the content is shared on the Internet.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

Copyright infringement is a violation of copyright laws, but it can also apply to violation of copyright restrictions provided by creators. As long as the restrictions are within the legal bounds of the copyright laws, creators can file a copyright infringement lawsuit against users who do not adhere to those restrictions. For example, if the creator provided notice on his booklets that reproduction is permitted as long as it is not modified and an organization modifies it and publishes it, that organization may be liable for copyright infringement. The plaintiff can show that a copyright notice was provided and that the modification was made in violation of the copyright restrictions as well as in violation of copyright laws. Violation of restrictions may also show willful misconduct on the user’s part, which might result in punitive damages.

A notice of copyright restrictions may also provide the name and contact information where requests for permission to use copyrighted material can be sent. Websites often post the email address of the contact person, but some may request a letter sent by mail or fax. Users do not have to contact anyone to obtain permission if it’s being used for fair use purposes. Fair use pertains to using material for teaching purposes or for news and commentary.

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