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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
This policy has been implemented to prevent lawsuits. There have been several recent suits filed against web sites and forums for copyright infringement, and at least one group of attorneys tried to make a career out of it. Though that group has been largely shut down over their approach to the matter, others are still at it. The suits are mainly in response to people copying and pasting whole newspaper articles into posts, but photos count to.


What You Can’t Do
1.) The practice of quoting or pasting whole or major article content into posts will no longer be allowed on the Shooter’s Forum. The moderators will delete the body such posts as we come across them.

2.) The above applies not only to newspaper stories but to copying any copyrighted material, including web site content. Unlike a patent, copyright does not require filing and is the assumed intellectual property of its originator. It used to be that use of something not quoted for personal financial gain was automatically allowed, but that is no longer the case. It was changed by the 1997 No Electronic Theft Act. Derivative works—works that are substantially plagiarism, such changing a few words or sentence order or recoloring and reorienting an image—are also covered by the original work's copyrights and so are not allowed without permission of the creator of the original work and an attribution that credits them.

3.) In addition to not quoting whole or major portions of articles, the above means you cannot copy an image location from another web site to insert as your own image to illustrate a post (hotlinking). I know that is going to cramp a lot of people’s style. Instead, you need to post a page link and tell people to look at the images there. {Update, on another forum in late March, 2013, an annoyed page owner discovered his m.1911 photo had been hotlinked to a post at The Firing Line forum, eating up his bandwidth, so rather than sue, he replaced the image with a pornographic image at the same link address, which resulted in the pornographic image appearing in place of the 1911 on that "family friendly" forum. So hot linking not only violates copyright law, it is a good way to lose your illustration or have it corrupted.}

What the above does is force people to see a page containing whatever advertising the copyright owner has posted. It’s how they make their living, so it provides compensation to them for the viewing of their material.

What You Can Do

1.) Anything published by the U. S. Government is public property, and as long as it is not currently classified, it may be copied.

2.) Anything on the Wikipedia that says it is part of the Wikimedia Commons, such as is the case with many illustrations from the Wikipedia, may be copied with an attribution as they grant license for general use in the small print. (Click on any Wiki image to get it on its own page, then scroll down to see the license terms. If the image is private and not licensed for copy, it will say non-free media on that license terms page. Example: You can use this from Wikipedia; you cannot use this from Wikipedia.)

3.) Due to changes in U. S. copyright law, copyrights have expired on anything published prior to 1923. Those are safe to copy. Some foreign copyrights from the same era have not. The U.K., for example, still has families controlling and benefiting commercially off the estates of such authors as Arthur Conan Doyle and H. G. Wells.

4.) You can post your own original work. When you do this you implicitly grant the right to copy it (copyright) to the Shooter's Forum. Others on other forums copying it from the Shooter's Forum without express permission or attribution will be in violation of your copyright and the board's, but the board will not undertake the expense of pursuing action against that. If you want to pursue action against the copyright violator, you will have to do that on your own.

Here is a plot from the Wikipedia, Wikimedia Commons, so it may be used. The required attribution is: ©Term by Tom Bell. It shows the effective date ranges of U. S. copyrights:




There is a doctrine called Fair Use that allows limited quoting. It is fuzzy and has no clear exact definition in case law. You can read about it at the U.S. government’s Copyright Office site. In general, you can quote a very limited amount of content as it pertains to supporting your argument or position or to convey an idea. Several sentences or a paragraph should be OK. You should always include a source credit (a reference to a book, for example, or a link to the web page that has the copyright to the material you quoted from).

From the Copyright Office page linked to, above:

” The distinction between fair use and infringement may be unclear and not easily defined. There is no specific number of words, lines, or notes that may safely be taken without permission.

Acknowledging the source of the copyrighted material does not substitute for obtaining permission.”


Summary

  • Do not copy and paste whole or substantial portions of articles.
  • Do not hotlink to images.
  • Do not post a link without including a statement as to why anyone should want to read it and how that link is relevant to your topic or to shooting sports in general. (That is called drive-by posting and is against board policy; don’t expect a link to speak for itself.)
  • Do quote in a context. That is, your own words should introduce make clear why the quote is relevant to your topic or the shooting sports in general.
  • Do get permission from the copyright holder to quote them whenever possible, even when the Fair Use Doctrine applies.
  • Do provide a link to the source's page or the page you took a quotation from in the line you write crediting the source.
  • Do read this attorney's list of the 10 Big Myths about copyrights, or at least the summary at the end and the update information below it. This attorney has tried Internet content copyright infringement cases. His information may prevent you from posting something that gets you and us sued. The two biggest takeaways I get from it that are commonly relevant to posts on this board are:

  1. Fair Use is intended to help you express your own ideas by providing supporting evidence or argument, and not to help you spread someone else's ideas.
  2. Fair Use does not include you making the unilateral decision that what you are doing is helping someone else advertise; THEY have to make that call when you ask them for permission.
The board moderators will enforce all the above when they encounter examples. Sorry for the inconvenience, but the lawyers do keep us all on our toes.
 

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Does this mean we can't quote load data from printed manuals? I know that powder companies are "free" with their published data- heck they post it on the net... but what about bullet companies who publish printed loading manuals? Can we "quote" their listed loads and derived velocities, etc.?
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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Good question. I doubt that the powder companies would fall into the same category as the large-circulation newspapers that are suing to generate revenue, but that's just personal opinion. After all the powder companies would like you to use their product, right?

I tend to point questions to the web site of the manufacturer, anyway, just to reduce the chance of error. Quoting a load or two doesn't wouldn't seem to cause any harm, anyway. After all some of the well-known combinations have been used for decades. And of course, if you are simply passing along load data that you have used with satisfaction, that shouldn't be a problem at all.

It is probably a good practice to include links whenever possible to current data.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
It is a nuisance, but you can see the Newspaper's side. Since they have to pay the reporters they can't be expected to give content away free. I don't know any business model that works out well that way. I'm sure their web advertising pays by the number of hits to their pages, same as most, so I'm not inclined to begrudge them their hits.

As to the hotlinks and insertion of other content, that's more preemptive than a current threat. But I'm sure it's just a matter of time before a litigator decides to make a career out of that, too.

As to the loads, to take Mike's point a little further, I'm sure it actually profits the manual writers to have you spread their load data around. They're either selling the powder or the bullets, so I expect they'll encourage it. And most of us are already in the habit of saying where we got the load data from, so that serves as a reference.

The Firing Line is where I first saw this sort of policy, new a few days ago. I think over the next few days I'll drop a line to a few of the powder companies to feel them out on the topic. The only thing that comes to mind as a potential basis for their objection is they may want assurance they're not being misquoted. If someone typo's 64.2 grains instead of 54.2, there is a potential consequence. In that instance a cut-and-paste is actually safer for them than hand written duplication.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Printed reloading manuals are fine as long as you quote them and not scan and put up the actual page. Trust me on that one, I've asked. PS thanks, I forgot to copyright mine.
That's because of an interesting element in the law, which is that a copyright may not be construed as protecting a process. That's left to method patents. For that reason, raw data developed by a process (e.g., load development) cannot be protected by a copyright. Direct copying of a scan, however, is copying a particular graphic presentation of that data, including the design of the layout, choice of fonts, etcetera. So, the graphic presentation can be copyrighted even when the raw data behind it cannot. So, you make your own graphic presentation of that same data (your post) and you are good to go.
 
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