, a California toy company, parodied “Girls” a Beastie Boys
song. If you’ve never heard the song, it’s had its share of criticism for being sexist. Its lyrics
joke that girls are only good for cleaning, doing the dishes, and laundry. GoldieBlox re-worded the song to encourage girls to explore the fields of science, technology, and engineering. Their use of the song without permission recently initiated discussion
of copyright infringement versus fair use.
Copyright falls under the legal regulations, known as intellectual-property law, that govern an individual's or organization's right to use or disseminate ideas or information. Copyright deals specifically with the rights granted to a creator, publisher, or other owner of original content to reproduce, adapt, or distribute said content. You might think that intellectual-property law has nothing to do with you, but if you’ve ever created a slideshow and used your favorite songs as the soundtrack, mashed up content to make a funny video, or made a copy of a CD/DVD for a friend, it does apply. Here’s a video that’ll give you a review of copyright principles.
Some copyright-related terms defined:
copyleft agreements: an alternative to placing works in the public domain or under traditional copyright laws; works can be modified as long as derivative works retain the same restrictions stipulated by the author of the original work. digital rights management (DRM): technological mechanisms to prevent content from being copied or shared over networks.
fair use doctrine: permits moderate use of copyrighted materials for education, news reporting, parody, criticism, and even home consumption in some cases as long as the use does not detract from the market value of the work.
intellectual-property law: legal regulations that govern an individual's or organization's right to use or disseminate ideas or information; encompasses copyright, patent, and trademark laws.
orphan works: copyrighted works whose owners are difficult or impossible to find.
public domain: legal status of a work that is not copyrighted by choice of owner or expiration of copyright term; anyone can use the work in any way they choose without cost.
If you want the details on copyright law and fair use, check out the US Copyright Office website