Understanding Internet Copyright



Copyright-Symbol-smallCopyright is one of those topics that, much like a sensitive horse, can be more effectively handled with a bit of care and understanding.  Copyrights on items like websites, documents, logos, etc. exist to protect both the creator and source as well as the end user of the piece. 

Having a copyright in place protects the originator of content from unauthorized use and distribution of their intellectual property.  But there are other components of copyright that are important to note as well.

The ability to copyright materials promotes the exploration of creativity and learning.  Authors can put their thoughts and ideas out to the public without fear of someone else claiming them.  This allows for invention and innovation!

More applicable to the WDAA is that copyright also ensures that any document, graphic or logo, educational material such as Rules & Tests, etc. are used with the intended purpose and educational value remaining pure to the original intent.  By requiring permission for use and restricting alteration, the piece remains exact in relation to the purpose for which it was designed.

So what does that mean?  Let’s look at our Western Dressage Tests for example.  Having a copyright in place ensures that whether you are printing Level 1 Test 2 from the WDAA website on your home computer, having it mentioned at a clinic in Alabama, or showing in a class in Wyoming the exact same test is one being referenced; without any changes, alterations or differences.

Copyright is equally important as it relates to Branding and the WDAA Logo(s).  A logo is like the face of a business or organization.  That logo represents a brand.  Brands are the symbolic representation of all an organization stands for or wants to be associated with.  For the WDAA our brand represents our commitment to our mission, the value we place on education and experiencing the Journey of Western Dressage.

Logos are commonly used as a visible link between two entities. Using the branded logo of an organization or business carries with it benefits as well as responsibilities. It is actually illegal to just copy, download or alter a logo image or any intellectual property from the internet without verbal or written permission from the organization or business.

If there is a logo or copyright material you wish to use from the WDAA, or any other organization, the proper thing to do is make a request.   The WDAA has a form online, just for this reason, located in the bottom navigation of our website.  You can also access that document by following this link: http://www.westerndressageassociation.org/copyright-material-request/

The WDAA is always excited to share the many wonderful opportunities to participate in Western Dressage events available across the country and internationally!  We want to help promote your activities in the best way possible for both you and the WDAA, while being mindful of any regulations, like copyright, that exist to protect use, creativity and learning.

Therefore please be responsible, take the necessary steps, complete the request form, gain access to the materials and together we can ensure the quality, consistency and message of materials, logos and information so important to this Journey!

FURTHER EXPLANATION AS WRITTEN BY http://mason.gmu.edu/~montecin/copyright-internet.htm

The Internet and Copyright:

“The Internet has been characterized as the largest threat to copyright since its inception. The Internet is awash in information, a lot of it with varying degrees of copyright protection. Copyrighted works on the Net include news stories, software, novels, screenplays, graphics, pictures, Usenet messages and even email. In fact, the frightening reality is that almost everything on the Net is protected by copyright law. That can pose problems for the hapless surfer.”

What is protected on the WWW?

The unique underlying design of a Web page and its contents, including:

  • links
  • original text
  • graphics
  • audio
  • video
  • html, vrml, other unique markup language sequences
  • List of Web sites compiled by an individual or organization
  • and all other unique elements that make up the original nature of the material.

When creating a Web page, you CAN:

  • Link to other Web sites. [However, some individuals and organizations have specific requirements when you link to their Web material. Check a site carefully to find such restrictions. It is wise to ask permission. You need to cite source, as you are required to do in a research paper, when quoting or paraphrasing material from other sources. How much you quote is limited.]
  • Use free graphics on your Web page. If the graphics are not advertised as “free” they should not be copied without permission.

When creating a Web page, you CANNOT:

  • Put the contents of another person’s or organizations web site on your Web page
  • Copy and paste information together from various Internet sources to create “your own” document. [You CAN quote or paraphrase limited amounts, if you give credit to the original source and the location of the source. This same principle applies to print sources, of course.]
  • Incorporate other people’s electronic material, such as e-mail, in your own document, without permission.
  • Forward someone’s e-mail to another recipient without permission
  • Change the context of or edit someone else’s digital correspondence in a way which changes the meaning
  • Copy and paste others’ lists of resources on your own web page
  • Copy and paste logos, icons, and other graphics from other web sites to your web page (unless it is clearly advertised as “freeware.” Shareware is not free).  Some organizations are happy to let you use their logos, with permission – it is free advertising.  But they want to know who is using it.  They might not approve of all sites who want to use their logo.

Many aspects of the issue of copyright and the Internet are still not resolved.  This information, however, should serve as a useful guide to help you avoid violation of copyright rules and the pitfalls of unknowingly plagiarizing someone else’s material. When in doubt, please consult the official copyright rules and guidelines.

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