Using Copyrighted Materials for Your Presentations: Make it Right!

YYou may not realize it but in inserting some images, texts, videos or music in your presentations, you may be violating some of the basic copyright laws there is worldwide. Perhaps you might have heard of the famous Apple versus Samsung patent infringement suits back in 2011. Or how the authors of the book “The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail” filed a copyright lawsuit against the writers of “The Da Vinci Code” in 2006. These are just a few examples of alleged violations that have gone full-blown into the hands of the jury. You might be thinking: “So what?

Those are giant companies and my presentation or company is just a speck compared to them. Besides, most of them focus around patent infringements.” But whether you’re talking about copyrighted works, patented products or trademarked logos, these all belong under the huge and intricate umbrella of intellectual property. Intellectual property includes all creations or products of the human mind—be it an invention, design, application, literary, scientific or artistic work. And including copyrighted materials in your presentations is no exception.

So what are my responsibilities?

To gauge how sensitive you are of your basic copyright responsibilities, test yourself by answering these questions with either true or false:

1)    “I can copy something which has no copyright symbol (©) in it”

If you answered false, you’re correct! Even if something has no copyright symbol, it doesn’t mean it’s not bound within copyright laws. In copyrighting, works are protected by the sole fact of their creation. This is regardless of how they are presented, what their purpose is, what the quality and content is, where they are stored and whether or not the illustrious © symbol exists.

2)    “I need to have permission from the owner anytime I use copyrighted works”.

You’re correct if you answered true. You should obtain permission, preferably a written one, from the original owner before using, copying or publishing copyrighted materials.

3)    “Spoken words are exempted from copyright laws”.

This is false, as even spoken words in audio format require permission from the person who originally spoke the words. Now what are my rights? So you’re probably thinking this time, “What options can I have for my presentations if almost everything else is copyrighted? And how time consuming it is to get permission from all the works!”

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Actually, a lot of what I just mentioned applies to traditional copyrighting as we know it. But with the advent of the Internet, there are also “creative commons” nowadays wherein you’re free to use works without permission as long as they are used within the conditions specified. Then there are public domains as well where works can be freely used without any restrictions and permission. These often apply to works which have intentionally been placed in public domains. Another sensible and smarter alternative is, just as almost any creation can be copyrighted, so can anyone including YOU create your own copyrighted material!

Many professional designers like our team from 24Slides can help you produce works like logos and designs uniquely your own and assign you all the rights so you can use these over and over again and anytime without worrying about infringing copyrights. Besides, no matter what line of business you’re in, it’s imperative that you create intellectual properties and register these as appropriate. In the short run, doing so will help establish your brand identity and keep it unique or confidential.

In the long run, you might even earn royalties from them or they can help expand your business globally. Indeed, there are no laws against using copyrighted materials to enhance your presentation but there is certainly at least one against improperly using these without giving the original owner due credit. What other tips on using copyrighted materials on presentations do you know of? Let us know through your comments below.