Q&A: Copyright

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From The Republic (Columbus):

Q: Apparently a company is taking our articles, putting them on laminated plaques and attempting to sell them to people featured in the articles. Is this a violation of our copyright? If so what is our recourse?

A: The issue does raise some questions under copyright law. The company obviously is using your content for a commercial benefit. If you offer a similar product the infringement would be even greater.

My guess is they believe they are putting out a different product (plaque, not news) and would argue the Fair Use Doctrine protects them.

It would take some legal research to determine the strength of their Fair Use argument.

I see two choices for you:

1. Engage a lawyer to start the process of stopping the copyright infringement. It would begin with a cease-and-desist letter but could end up in litigation. I can give you some attorneys’ names if you decide to go this route.

2. Inform the company of your belief that it is infringing on your copyright but negotiate a price allowing them to use your material. You could market the plaques to increase sales.

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