I'm not a magazine editor, but I've been over this topic in some detail
with a lawyer friend.
And, basically, Yes, it is a violation of US copyright law to make a
copy of a copyrighted work (doesn't have to be printed), even if you
don't take credit and don't sell it. There are all sorts of 'Fair Use'
exclusions to this rule (like for researchers and schools), but the
overall effect is you can't copy a "substantial portion" of an original
work without permission.
This is balanced by the principle "If you can't be prosecuted for it,
it's not illegal". Copyright is a civil matter, so someone needs to
show damages to get a judgement against you. It's unlikely you would be
prosecuted for making a single copy of a common magazine and giving it
to a friend. OTOH, copying a rare book _could_ get you prosecuted, if
the copyright holder could show it financially damaged him in some way.
Copying an entire issue of a current magazine and posting it to a web
site, though, is quite likely to draw unwanted attention (if not a
Of course, many items (like this email) are not copyrighted, and so can
be copied freely.
An essential part of a copyright infringement suit is the copyright
notice, which doesn't necessarily have to be on the work, but does have
to be present in some fashion (if only a nasty letter from a lawyer
There are also lots of gray areas, which is what keeps lawyers employed
I realize this goes 'against the grain' for many people, particularly on
the Internet ("Data wants to be free"), but is what the law says. And,
I don't see any likelihood of it changing anytime soon. The general
movement has been towards _more_ copyright protection, rather than less,
since "That's where the big bucks are".
Disclaimer : I am not a lawyer, and this should not be taken as legal
advice. Although I believe this information to be basically correct, I
am not responsible for any errors or omissions.
Eric J Petrevich/LRM wrote:
> OK, now that we have someone here from a magazine, I've got a couple of
> questions about copyrights.
> First off, this is NOT a flame at all, it's just a couple of questions
> about the law.
> I've always thought that I can not reproduce any writing material ONLY if I
> was either claiming it as mine own OR if I was making money with it. It
> was my understanding that as long as I gave credit to the author (and
> publisher) that I wasn't breaking any laws.
> So, if I read a magazine and give it to a friend, am I breaking the law?
> What about if I post the info on a web page, am I breaking the law (a FREE
> web page)
> What about if I use the info in a school report?
> Quite frankly, I'm more confused now. FWIW, I have lots of material on my
> web page (I also have the shop-talk file archives among others) and if
> the stuff is not legal for me to have there, I'll remove it. My intention
> is just to share info (what the internet was created for) not to steal
> others work.