Before the digital age only authors, creators and the print shops needed to know about the rules surrounding copyrights. Now when we all have the ability to get and use information and images through physical and electronic forms we ALL need to know about copyrights.
When anyone writes, composes, or creates they are making a work that can be copyrighted and THEY own the rights to that work. The creator or owner of the work may allow someone else to use their work for a set purpose or unlimited use for free or for a fee. It is their work and their right to determine how it is used. They are the ones that toiled to create their work from nothing and they are the ones that need to pay for the roof over their heads and food on their plates. Now they may work with someone like a royalty collection group or an agency to represent, market, and collect fees on their behalf. How much of their rights they give to these groups and how much they collect is up to the creator and their ‘partners’. The money they earn supports them, their family and their ability to create more works.
Intellectual property laws have been developed to protect these creative people, their works, and to allow new creations to continue to flow for our enjoyment and to improve our lives. It was intellectual creativity that figured out how to changes metal into the Statue of Liberty, plastic and metal into computers, rock into The Thinker, paint and canvas into the Mona Lisa, note into the Twelfth Overture, and so much more. It was once side that you can bang a broken pipe but you pay a plumber to know where to bang it. Yes you might be able to paint, sculpt, write or design but you should value those who have the touch to create something new and wonderful. The laws have been set up so those people can provide for themselves and their families.
Many how have created some of the most beautiful music, art, and literature find it is amazing that there are people out there who feel it is not stealing to just take their work without permission to redistribute or to use. These are the same people who would not think of stealing from a store. The person who wrote the book still spent hours, days, weeks, or years writing, editing, marketing and trying to sell their work. When you buy counterfeits or get illegal downloads you are stealing from the very person how you should be thanking and reimbursing for all of their work for your enjoyment. It is heart breaking to learn that many of the people responsible for the things we enjoy will never see a royalty check for their work.
As a granddaughter of an artist (Ben Wolf of Philadelphia), I want to see his work used as he wanted it to be and for it to live on to influence generations to come.
As a blogger I use only MY photos. If I use anyone else's I will ask permission first. I hope anyone who wants to use mine will ask me for permission. I only post my own writing (typos and all). I try to link to official sites for products and services I mention. They know how they want to present their stuff and legalize far better then I do. The images I use I created, commissioned and/or have permission to use.
US Copyright Office http://www.copyright.gov/ (not very user friendly)
Copyright Clearance Center about copyrights http://www.copyright.com/ccc/viewPage.do?pageCode=cr10-n (very user friendly)