Friday, November 6, 2009

Project Managers: who owns the content?

In the course of a project, a lot of things get developed, much of it renderings of ideas in all manner of media.

Question: who owns the content?

Answer: it depends! If you are working under the rules of 'works made for hire' your employer probably owns the content--lock, stock, and barrel

But if you are not on a 'works made for hire' agreement, and you are the author, most likely you own the content under the principle of "original works of authorship" unless you have signed it over with a written document to someone else--at least that is true in the United States.

In the U.S., an idea can't be copyrighted, but an idea expressed in media is automatically copyrighted to the author, whether or not published, and no declaration or registration is required, ever!

Want to know more? There is a really good document, written clearly and in plain language, at the copyright office of the United States. Just click here to get it.

What about creative commons? What is that? Well, it is a means to share copyrighted material for purposes of innovation and content sharing. There are several sharing ideas under creative commons. Here's a good slideshare on the topic from Jennifer Dorman.

And what about 'free use'? Well, the courts have generally agreed that you can copy up to 250 contiquous words, or 400 words from an entire work, without getting a copyright release. But there are exceptions, especially when the 400 words is the essence of the copyrighted work. Read more at the government website on copyrights

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