Copyright (long and off-topic)


Hi, guys -

I'm sure Karen will provide good feedback on the copyright issue, but as another equine journalist and someone who handles copyright compliance on a daily basis, I thought I'd add my two cents as well.

When an author puts pen to paper and produces a literary effort, copyright protection of that intellectual property is automatic and may be enforced even without a statement or the copyright symbol.

Writers make many different deals when selling their work. Some retain copyright, some cede it to the buyer outright, some only cede certain rights such as first North American printing.

When in doubt about the copyright on an item, please check with the publisher or author. If they don't own the rights, they can tell you who does (most of the time). Another wonderful resource is the Copyright Clearance Center in Malden, MA ( They handle permissions for many of the large publishers and independent authors.

If something is not subject to copyright, it will either: 1) have an origination date prior to 1924, or 2) say "public domain", in which case, it's fair game to use, although courtesy dictates you acknowledge the source.

Copyright issues, especially since the invention of the Internet, are very murky. "Fair use" is a concept defined by the government, and many items might fall into that category. You need to run through a checklist to make sure that you're not infringing on anyone's rights, though. Many academic websites have information on copyright do's and do not's... one that springs to mind is the Indiana University. CCC and Library of Congress also have information readily available.

Sorry to be so long winded on this topic, but writers tend to take it seriously, since a portion of our income potentially rests on permissions fees.


Paula Brown
Poland, ME