In this present age of information, one can find adequate material on almost anything- and incorporate the said material into reports, articles, videos, or presentations to display as one’s own. This is where the issue of copyright creeps in- if the student is, in fact, substantiating his work with the result of someone else’s efforts, surely he is infringing some rights vesting in the author of the previously created work? Thus, in order to avoid any action for copyright infringement, students must take certain precautions when sourcing material to create something ‘new’.
Much of the information that one finds online is copyrighted, and not available for public use. In such a case, the student should take note of whether the particular material is in the public domain already- for example, if a student decides to quote a passage of Shakespeare’s Hamlet in their paper, it would not be infringement, owing to the work has already been in the public domain. Another manner in which a student may rightfully use online material is when it is marked under what is termed as an ‘open’ or a Creative Commons license, which allows its public use. If the two option are not available for the student, then he can easily move on to the second note, which translates to the simple art of asking permission.
If a student happens across a protected research that would be immensely helpful to him, then he can incorporate the same into his work by asking permission from the author to use it. This is akin to the website Academia.com asking students to request the authors to read (and possibly use) their paper. Once the author’s approval is obtained, all hindrances to using their work is clear, and one can move forward on the path of knowledge with ease!
Fair dealing and fair use are provided in Section 52 of the Indian Copyright Act, as well as in the U.K. and American Acts as exceptions to what would ordinarily constitute copyright infringement. Under this, if a student decided to use a particular piece of copyrighted material- say a song clip or video- as a learning aid in their presentation, or otherwise used certain material for research purposes, it would not violate any copyright of the author in that work. Thus, a student can freely use the material if it amounts to fair dealing, provided that the finished product is not used for other purposes.
It is understood that Copyright laws are put in place to protect the rights of creators. In such a situation, by following the aforementioned tips, students can avoid getting caught in its tangles as well as ensure that they get the necessary aid for their efforts, academic or otherwise.
Published by – Biswajit Sarkar: Copyright Lawyer India