General Question

Fyrius's avatar

Copyrights question.

Asked by Fyrius (14550points) August 17th, 2010

I’m considering using an illustration found on Wikipedia as part of my Master thesis. The file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license, meaning this sort of use is okay as long as it’s attributed to the author (whom I can only know by his screen name), the license is mentioned, and “if you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under the same or similar license to this one.”

Main question: Would using this picture as an illustration in the introduction legally necessitate making the entire thesis available in the Public Domain?
I’m pretty sure my university won’t accept it if it were, so in that case I can’t use it.

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11 Answers

Vincentt's avatar

No, only if you alter the image and redistribute that, then the image itself should continue to fall under the same license. Otherwise it’d be severely impractical.

Also, don’t you retain the copyright of your thesis? And if you do, why shouldn’t you be allowed to publish it under a Creative Commons license? (Which, I should note, is something different than being in the Public Domain.)

theichibun's avatar

From my understanding, it wouldn’t.

And I agree, what your university wants to have happen to it doesn’t matter. It’s your thesis not theirs.

Vincentt's avatar

Checking up on the license, it seems as per section 4( c ) that you in fact only need to “leave intact” existing copyright notices, or provide reasonable alternatives (like “image based on work by <blabla>”).

Also, 8( a) says “Each time You Distribute or Publicly Perform the Work or a Collection, the Licensor offers to the recipient a license to the Work on the same terms and conditions as the license granted to You under this License.” In section 2( b ) you can read that your thesis would be considered a Collection, whereas the image would be a Work according to 2( h ).

Fyrius's avatar

I see… Thanks. :)

I’m not sure, but I believe that by handing in my thesis, I grant my university part of the copyrights to it. They’re the publishers, in a way.

marinelife's avatar

No, that means the image.

CMaz's avatar

No. Unless you are charging to view it or sell it.

Vincentt's avatar

@Fyrius Hmm, perhaps that’s part of the agreement you signed when you signed up for your university, I suppose, but you’d have to explicitly hand over the rights though. (Though then again, perhaps there’s something about this in the law just as there is for employers in the Netherlands.)

@ChazMaz I’m not sure whether charging it would affect anything in any way. I’m inclined to think that would just be permitted without extra restrictions.

CMaz's avatar

I can use copyrighted music in videos that are for educational use and “public service” without infringing copyright.
And yea, the owner of the song can always bust your balls. But if there is no money involved or slander. There is only a positive twist for having others use it.
Think of it as free marketing.

If I use music in any of my videos and those videos generate revenue directly or indirectly I am using their music to make money. That’s called stealing.

The golden rule and law is. You can’t use any copyrighted anything without permission.

But as explained above there are ways to get around it. And 99% of the time it works.

Vincentt's avatar

@ChazMaz First of all, this is not a way of “getting around it” – the original author explicitly gave everybody permission to use his work, provided you give him attribution and share it under the same license.

Secondly: you’re also not allowed to just use copyrighted music in videos for education use. I know that in the US there is “fair use”, but that means that you can include e.g. a picture of a painting someone when educating about that painting. Even though you might consider it free marketing, the original author would in most countries have to agree with it.

Thirdly: using music in your videos and generating revenue from that is not called stealing, but copyright infringement. That is something entirely different, with e.g. an important difference being that you do not depriving anybody of anything.

On a related note, “any copyrighted anything” might lead people to think things have to be explicitly “copyrighted”, but in most countries (those who have signed the Berne Convention), this is not the case. Things you create fall under copyright automatically, unless you waive (parts of) your copyrights. And waiving your copyrights doesn’t mean that you have less rights over your work, just that you give other people more rights.

A website I can really recommend for people interested in this subject is

CMaz's avatar

“an important difference being that you do not depriving anybody of anything.”
Sure you do.
Copyright infringement is stealing. When the intent is to make profit from it and leaving the rightful owner out of the loop. Or taking credit for something you did not produce.

Text book is one thing. Real world is another. :-)

“Things you create fall under copyright automatically”
This is true.

Vincentt's avatar

I find it to be different than stealing both textbook and real world, but that’s a whole different discussion that I think has already been held some time ago on Fluther. (I just can’t find the question right now.)

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