Polar Bears Blog #4
I received an e-mail today from a friend that included several cutesy photographs of polar bears sleeping, dancing, and hugging. The e-mail had been forwarded to several addresses before it was finally forwarded to me. I enjoyed the photos and considered sharing them with my friends.
Could I forward these photos? The forward button is just a mouse click away. Have you ever forwarded an email? You are probably thinking, who hasn’t?
Forwarding an e-mail is a U.S. copyright violation!
According to Carol Simpson in Copyright for Schools: A Practical Guide, Fourth Edition, “E-mail is probably the most abused Internet property. It is forwarded, edited, copied and reprinted, sometimes to the point that the original author is long lost.” (p. 121) She is absolutely right. I have no idea who put the series of photographs together, let alone who took the photos. The photographer owns these pictures. Without his or her permission, I cannot forward the photos. “Reproduction in all formats is controlled by the copyright owner.” (p. 17)
Every day I receive personal emails just as a private letter use to be sent through the U.S. Postal Service. I may preserve one copy of an original email for my own files, but I cannot make additional copies and distribute/forward them without permission from the author.
Although we will probably never be questioned about our everyday copyright infringements, but we do need to be aware of the violations and educate our library patrons and students of the laws pertaining to copyright protection. Until I read Carol Simpson’s book, I had never even considered this copyright question.
Simpson, Carol. Copyright for Schools: a Practical Guide. 4th ed. Worthington, Ohio: Linworth Books, 2005.