People frequently share incorrect information about the law with one another, as the average person has a hard time understanding legal code and court precedent. Even business owners who have a vested interest in knowing their rights and the laws that limit their activities may share bad advice with one another, not realizing they are contributing to a dangerous myth.
Copyright and intellectual property laws are some of the most misunderstood statutes in the country. Some people think they can obtain a copyright by mailing documents to themselves, while others think that they can sue anyone who reproduces or shares their original works.
There is one copyright myth in particular that has proven perniciously difficult to correct. Businesses in the creative industry, especially those that print works of art or that create clever t-shirts for sale online can run afoul of copyright law when they believe the myth that changes to a copyrighted work allows them to reproduce it without penalties.
No amount of changes undo copyright protections
Some people will tell you that changing an image 10% from the original is enough to avoid copyright infringement by making your recreation of it fair use. Others will tell you numbers as high as 30%. However, the United States Copyright Office is clear about such claims, and they are patently false.
You cannot reproduce copyrighted works owned by another individual or business without their permission or a royalties arrangement. Unfortunately, some businesses only learn about this myth after they already face accusations of violating someone’s rights.
It is possible to defend against copyright violation allegations
When a business or creator accuses you of violating copyright rules, you can go to court to defend yourself. You may also be able to negotiate a settlement with the other party that can limit the losses you suffer if there was a mistake made due to a misunderstanding.
The best way to determine an appropriate response to copyright issues is to review the situation, including the allegations against you and what, if any, financial gain you made. A thorough review can give you a better idea of the best response. Defending your business against copyright infringement allegations may involve learning from your mistakes as much as preventing a mistake in the first place.