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Copyright on Inspirational Quotes

 
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Madlymo
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 05, 2013 5:42 pm    Post subject: Copyright on Inspirational Quotes Reply with quote

Hi

I have a question about copyright on Inspirational Quotes please.

I make and sell hand crafted gifts and plaques and want to use "Inspirational Quotes" on these.

I see that there are many quoted on the Internet and special web sites and wondered how I would stand if I wanted to sell my gifts with these quotes on them.

I plan on crediting the person by adding their name when available, but some of the ones I have seen have no name on them. I would be pleased to hear your comments on this please. Thank You.
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AndyJ
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 06, 2013 9:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Madlymo,
Quotations are always tricky when it comes to copyright. Generally speaking the author of a witty or memorable quote is likely to be pleased when it is re-used, and circulated, especially when it is attached to their name. However, technically the phrases or words which make up a quote are subject to the same rules as other works when it comes to copyright protection. That is to say if the words have been recorded in a fixed medium (say in writing or recorded on tape) and have sufficient originality, then they qualify. If the original 'work' consists just of the inspirational words, anyone else wishing to re-quote the words will use them all (if they are doing so accurately) and so a substantial part of the original will be copied and this would amount to infringement over which the author might take action, if they so choose. However if the words are merely a single sentence from an 8,000 word article or essay, for example, then quoting just a dozen or so may not be substantial. Much will depend on how central the chosen words are to the main work which contained them. I suspect that you will encounter both sorts as you hunt for such quotes.
The fact that you want to do this in connection with selling products increases the chance that someone make object to their words being copied.
However, no-one has a monopoly on language, and so general, short phrases can easily be uttered by two different individuals, independently of each other and that would not amount to copyright infringement. Also there are often disputes about who was the actual author and it can be notoriously difficult to prove that you are the first person to have ever said that combination of words.
So no clear solution to your problem, I'm afraid. Be as diligent as you can in trying to identify the author, and where possible try to get permission, and in all other cases, be ready to pull your product if anyone objects. Where you cannot discover the author through diligent searching, the person who later claims to be the author will probably have some difficulty in proving that they are, and so will be on shaky ground if they wish to pursue the matter beyond a simple request that you not to use the quotation in future.
And finally, be aware that some phrases may be subject to trade mark protection. Keep Calm and Carry On is an example of this. You can easily use the IPO website to check for trade marks consisting of words.
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Advice or comment provided here is not and does not purport to be legal advice as defined by s.12 of Legal Services Act 2007
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Madlymo
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 09, 2013 4:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for your reply and information. I have enclosed a link for a web site which appears to use these inspirational quotes called 'Daily Inspirational Quotes'and this link is a copy of their terms and conditions. You will also be able to explore the site and see the quotes too. I see that some are actually given as "anonymous" and assumed to be in the public domain.

I wondered how I would stand using the 'anonymous' ones and quotes say from Plato and the like. How do the rules apply to someone who lived so long ago?

As you say it is a minefield and I do intend penning some of my own, but then again I might inadvertently choose something that has been said before. Would it be enough to have in my 'terms and condition' that I would be prepared to 'pull' any quotes if proven to be in breach of copyright?

Thank you for your help and I look forward to hearing your comments.

Mo
PS I have just found out that I cannot post web site addresses until I have been a member and posted a few more times. But hopefully you will be able to find the web site I mention from it's name above.
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AndyJ
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 10, 2013 8:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Madlymo wrote:
I see that some are actually given as "anonymous" and assumed to be in the public domain. I wondered how I would stand using the 'anonymous' ones and quotes say from Plato and the like. How do the rules apply to someone who lived so long ago?
The law tries to address the issue of anonymous authors like this:
Quote:
57 Anonymous or pseudonymous works: acts permitted on assumptions as to expiry of copyright or death of author.
(1) Copyright in a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work is not infringed by an act done at a time when, or in pursuance of arrangements made at a time when—
    (a) it is not possible by reasonable inquiry to ascertain the identity of the author, and
    (b) it is reasonable to assume—
      (i) that copyright has expired, or
      (ii) that the author died 70 years or more before the beginning of the calendar year in which the act is done or the arrangements are made.

Exactly how you can make an assumption about when someone died when you have no idea of their identity is something on which the Act fails to provide guidance. However if a quotation has been in existence for over 150 years (ie a reasonable lifetime plus 70 years post mortem) then it would entirely safe to assume it is out of copyright.

Madlymo wrote:
I do intend penning some of my own, but then again I might inadvertently choose something that has been said before.
If you compose something from scratch and can be reasonably sure you have not half-remembered something someone else has written, then you should be on fairly firm ground. It has been known for unconscious copying to be found to infringe (eg the My Sweet Lord case in the USA) but it is not that common.
Madlymo wrote:
Would it be enough to have in my 'terms and condition' that I would be prepared to 'pull' any quotes if proven to be in breach of copyright?
I would make it simpler than that and just say that you will remove anything which unintentionally infringes anyone else's copyright. The idea of 'proving' a breach might seem too legalistic and unco-operative on your part.

Obviously you should not use any of the artwork or special fonts which sites like Daily Inspirational Quotes have used. Just stick to the text of those quotes which you are confident are in the public domain (or you have obtained permission from the living authors to use) and you will be unlikely to run into difficulties with either the authors or sites like DIQ.
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Madlymo
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 10, 2013 10:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you Andy - valuable information.

I now feel more able to start this little venture of mine and if I come across anything I am not sure of I feel that this forum is a great place to ask and get answers.

Thank you once again for your quick response too
madlymo
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