Copyright: Determining “Fair Use”


Courts consider four factors in disputes over fair use:

  • The purpose and character of the use, especially whether the use for profit.
  • The nature and purpose of the copyright work.
  • The amount and substantiality of the portion of the work used.
  • The effect of the use on the potential market for the copyrighted work.

Fair use does not apply to graphics: you must obtain written permission to use any graphics.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Franchises


A franchise is a contract arrangement by which the owner of a trade name, trademark, copyright, or process grants permission to others to use this property in selling goods or services under specified conditions.

The purchaser of a franchise (franchisee) obtains the advantage of offering a well-known or unusual product that may already have wide appeal. The franchisee  also receives the benefit of mass buying and advertising. Typically, the buyer of a franchise may pay a flat fee for the franchise as well as an additional percentage based on sales. The franchisee may also be required to pay a fractional share of the franchisor’s promotional costs and to purchase certain supplies from the franchisor.

Contract and sales laws pertaining to franchises are comparatively new. If the franchise involves the resale of goods or food, both the franchisor and franchisee will usually be liable under a breach of warranty if the food or other merchandize is not wholesome or proper from the consumer’s standpoint. However, tort liability to a third person is usually the responsibility of the franchisee alone. In a case where the franchisee’s truck struck  and negligently injured a pedestrian , the franchisor would normally have no responsibility.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

 

Intellectual Property


The most valuable resource in the modern economy is the human mind. The ideas, concepts, and other symbolic creations of the human mind are referred to as intellectual property. Intellectual property is protected through a number of special laws and public policies including copyright, patent, and trademark laws. These laws rest on two essential premises:

  • The creator, be it a person or an organization, of an idea or invention should be entitled to the benefits that flow from that original creation if it can be proved that the creation came from that person or organization.
  • The right to get special economic advantage from such inventions should not exist forever. At some point, ideas enter the public domain and can be used by others.

In today’s global economy, many temptations can arise for businesses and individuals to use other people’s ideas without permission. Patents, copyrights, and other intellectual property are sometimes infringed, or wrongfully used, by those who see an opportunity for quick profit, a practice known as commercial piracy.

A great deal of pirating occurs in industries such as computer software and hardware, industrial machinery, printing and publishing, and designer clothing. Because some governments do not curb such practices, businesses that create ideas are injured.

In coming decades, many new ideas will be developed and commercially exploited in such fields as bioengineering, computer software, fiber optics, and medicine, to name a few. In a global economy, these forms of intellectual property are economically valuable. A society that is scientifically and artistically creative has a big stake in laws that protect the companies that create new ideas. The employees who work for those companies have an important stake in the fair use of intellectual property, as do customers who license the technology or buy the products. A growing challenge for public policy and international trade negotiations is how to coordinate national laws protecting intellectual property rights.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Plagiarism and Copyright Violation


Plagiarism and copyright violation are complicated issues, especially in modern technical writing.

Plagiarism is the practice of using someone else’s words or ideas without crediting the source. Many organizations treat authorship of internal documents, such as memos and most reports, casually; that is, if the organization asks you to update an internal procedures manual, it expects you to use any material from the existing manual, even if you cannot determine the original author.

Organizations tend to treat the authorship of published documents, such as external manuals or journal articles, more seriously. Although the authors of some kinds of published technical documents are not listed, many documents such as user’s guides do acknowledge their authors. However, what constitutes authorship can be a complicated question, because most large technical documents are produced collaboratively, with several persons contributing text, another doing the graphics, still another reviewing for technical accuracy, and finally someone reviewing for legal concerns. Problems are compounded when a document goes into revision, and parts of original text or graphics are combined with new material.

The best way to determine authorship is to discuss it openly with everyone who contributed to the document. Some persons might deserve to be listed as authors; others, only credited in an acknowledgment section. To prevent changes of plagiarism, the wisest course is to be very conservative: if there is any question about whether to cite a source, cite it.

A related problem involves copyright violation. Copyright law provides legal protection to the author of any document, whether it be published or unpublished, and whether the author be an individual or a corporation. Unfortunately, some companies will take whole sections of another company’s product information or manual, make cosmetic changes, and publish it themselves. This, of course is stealing.

But the difference between stealing and learning from your competitors can be subtle. Words are protected by copyright, but ideas aren’t. Rare is the manufacturer who doesn’t study the competitor’s users’ guides to see how a feature or task is described. Inevitably, a good idea spreads from one document to another, and then to another. If one manual contains a particularly useful kind of troubleshooting guide, pretty soon a lot of others will contain similar ones. Even though this process of imitation tends to produce a dull uniformity, it can improve the overall quality of the document. Under no circumstances, however, should you violate copyright by using another organization’s words.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please contact www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight