Today for the #TarGramChallenge, we are talking about #TrueBlueTraditions. Our favorite copyright tradition is the public domain. The public domain contains items that may or may not have had copyright protection, but now those works no longer have copyright protection. A telephone book that lists names in alphabetical order is not afforded copyright protection. In the United States, pre-1923 published items are no longer afforded copyright protections. Photographs taken by animals are not afforded copyright protection. With works that are no longer afforded copyright protection, an individual has free range to copy the work in its entirety (like Pride and Prejudices and Zombies – available here at UNC!—which used 85% of the original text). Works published after 1922 may be difficult to determine whether the work still have copyright protection, although Peter Hirtle has a great chart to help. Here in the Scholarly Communications Office, we are more than happy to help you determine whether you can rewrite Animal Farm as Android Farm or can answer more practical questions about posting images or works on your personal website or on Sakai, because there can never be enough places to read Johnathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal.


Today’s category for the #TarGramChallenge is #Roomies. While many of you are thinking about the fun activities you do with your roommates, like maybe you played mini-golf at the Undergrad Library back in August, or are going to rent a movie (FOR FREE) at the MRC in the UL. But what about those more creative endeavors you do? The Eli Young band started as roommates before their first hit, “Even if it Breaks Your Heart” scored number one on the country charts. David Farrell, a.k.a. Phoenix, and Brad Delson of Linkin Park were roommates before they were bandmates. Especially now, where it’s so easy to write a song and upload it to YouTube and have your creative expression for everyone to see and hear, who owns the copyright?

Assuming you haven’t signed it away, you both do.

If someone wants to copy you music, use it for a film, or put it in a movie, then only one of you has to grant permission under the copyright law. However, you might want to ask your joint author anyway. Good manners and a good plan are always helpful. If you have questions about how to share a copyright with your roommate or co-author, whether it’s a new musical hit or an academic article, come and talk to us in the Scholarly Communications Office! We’re here to help, and we don’t want something as silly as the law to come between you and your new bestie.


Are you dancing today for #TarHeelToneUp for the #TarGramChallenge?

Once you start getting into copyright law, you realize that copyright law is everywhere. We have even seen it in dance. Anne Gilliland dances English Country Dances, and when I was younger, I took ballroom and swing dancing classes at my alma mater. We often don’t think of dance as involving copyright.  Today is Tar Heel tone Up, and maybe you’re doing “Cardio Funk,” “Zumba,” Z2” or “Ballet Sculpt.” Maybe you’re going to go to a dance night or dance around in your room. Did you know that dance may have a copyright interest like your novel or song? The dance moves may have a copyright interest as you’re stretching out or toning up.

To qualify for copyright protection you have to “fix the work in a tangible form of expression.” More simply put, according to the Copyright Office, your choreography, “. . . can be embodied in a film or video recording or be precisely described on a phonorecord, in written text, or in a dance notation system such as Labanotation, Sutton Movement Shorthand, or Benesh Notation.” The Dance Heritage Coalition has even produced a “Statement of Best Practices in Fair Use of Dance-Related Materials” if you want to review some information before coming and talking to us in the Scholarly Communications Office.

Check out the fitness classes over at the rec and dance away. If you’re developing your own dance class, dance, or want to perform someone else’s dance, come over to the Scholarly Communications Office and talk to us! We can’t advise you on the dance, and we might be able to dance poorly, but we can definitely advise you on how to protect your work or give it away for free.

Pit Life

Today is #PitLife for the #TarGramChallenge, and as you are taking pictures and blasting them on the Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, we wanted to make sure that you were thinking about some of the legal issues that came up when posting those photographs.

When you take a picture without someone’s permission, the subject being photographed generally has no copyright interest in the photo, so you as the photographer are likely the copyright holder. However, other legal issues may arise.

When you actually take the photograph, you may be invading someone’s privacy. If you get the subject’s permission, then you are not invading their privacy. If you surreptitiously take a picture of someone inside of their house, you may have invaded that person’s privacy. Even in public, you have some, but not much, expectation of privacy. We don’t expect that when we go outside that a photo of us will wind up as an advertisement, and we shouldn’t. The location of where the photo was taken matters.

Where are you posting the photographs? Every social media platform you use, like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, all have their own terms and conditions of what they can do with the photograph. Some of them make sense, like the ability to copy the photo, because the technology requires them to make copies of the photographs, so you can share them or view them on different platforms.  Facebook’s policy states “you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.” So, even if you delete the photograph, the photograph may still be living on Facebook without your knowledge. Since you granted Facebook a license on the original posting, they have a contractual right to keep the photo available until everyone deletes the content from their respective accounts. If your post went viral, good luck getting everyone to take it down.

Now, you have taken the photo, read the terms and conditions, and posted the photo. So, what happens when you realize that someone has posted the photo without your permission? Well, you can do a DMCA Takedown notice, which lets a website know that someone has posted your photograph without their permission and you want it taken down. You have to do a DMCA takedown notice for every website where your image appears. Thankfully some websites, like Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, or Twitter have easy ways to let them know that your copyright has been violated.

If you have any questions about photographs or anything else, come see us in the Scholarly Communications Office!

Carolina In My Mind: When Can I (Legally) Use a Popular Song?

Most of the basics of music copyright are the same as for other formats.  The rules about how copyright occurs and for fair use are the same for music as they are for other media.  Nevertheless, the world of music copyright and music licensing is particularly fraught because of the amounts of money involved, the popularity of much of the content, and the ease of reproduction and distribution.

One of the things that is different about music is the variety of licensing schemes and the variety of rights that they can cover.  For example, there may be different copyrights in all of the following:  particular recording of a song, in the music that is used, and in the lyrics.

This is reflected in a number of different licensing schemes.  For example, it is possible to get a compulsory license (a license which the rights holder must grant) to make a cover of a song.  Many venues where musicians perform pay a blanket license to cover the rights holders’ fees for the right of public performance.  Other music licenses include synchronization rights to provide background music for a video.

Although the analysis with respect to market harm can often be restrictive, an assertion of fair use can apply to music, especially in an educational context.  One of the most important recent fair use cases—Campbell v. Acuff Rose, involved a defendant who won a copyright lawsuit with a fair use defense.  As with any content, the user should look at the type of use, the amount and substantiality used, and the effect on the market.

If you are uploading music—either your own or someone else’s– to a social media site, the terms of use for that site are also relevant.  Some sites, like YouTube, have software that detects when other rights holders’ music is uploaded and either remove the music or add advertising around the video.

If you have questions about music as either a consumer or creator, contact us at the Scholarly Communications Office.