Customers sometimes ask us why we copyright our publications, rather than sell the copyrights to our customers or to place our publishing work in the “public domain.”
We have good reasons. Copyrights protect our publishing work from unauthorized copying for commercial purposes. Copyrights allow us to produce custom publications at a reasonable cost for our customers. Saturn produces most of our publications on speculation, betting that there is a market for a particular publication. In creating customized publications, we begin with content from one or more of our major copyrighted publications. Our customers review this content and make minor changes to customize the publication to their particular policies and procedures. We then add a custom cover and title page. We acknowledge the contributions of the customer’s reviewers. And maybe we customize the Foreword.
Saturn holds the copyright to every publication we produce except those that we produce as “work for hire.” Saturn grants our customers a non-exclusive license to use a Saturn copyright for the purposes of their organizations as defined in a contract between Saturn and the customer. Customers may not sell or give away their licenses to use the publications.
“Work for Hire” Publications
If a customer wants Saturn to create a publication from scratch, Saturn and the customer sign a contract that specifies the publication as “work for hire.” In this case, the customer owns the copyright, and Saturn doesn’t claim copyright on the work. Saturn creates the work specifically for one customer and that customer pays the entire publication cost. The cost of “work for hire” publications is many times higher than a customer pays for a license to use a customized Saturn-copyrighted publication.
Publications in the Public Domain
Writing and art that are placed in the “public domain” are intentionally not copyrighted. Government agencies and non-profit organizations often place their publications in the public domain. Sometimes the publishers of these public-domain publications don’t identify authors or state when the publications were published. In many cases, nobody is responsible for an uncopyrighted “public-domain” publication, and nobody has the incentive to revise or improve it. In contrast, Saturn’s copyrighted publications are maintained in a state of continuous improvement.
Authors are automatically granted a copyright for writing or art even if they don’t put a copyright symbol and date on the work. The author’s copyright is more valid if the author places a copyright symbol and date on the work (© Saturn Resource Management 2008) and more valid still if the author registers the work with the Library of Congress (LOC). Saturn copyrights all of its customized publications using the copyright symbol and date. Saturn registers its major publications with the LOC, in addition to displaying the copyright symbol and date. Saturn’s customized publications are typically derivatives of Saturn’s major LOC-registered publications.
A copyright provides protection against someone copying text or illustrations and using them for a commercial purpose without the author’s permission. The Library Fair Use Act allows an individual person to make a copy of a copyrighted work for his or her personal use. If this copying goes beyond personal use into commercial use, that constitutes copyright infringement.
One example of copyright infringement is if an instructor buys a copy of a publication and photocopies it 25 times as a handout for a seminar. The publication adds value to the seminar, but the the instructor doesn’t pay the copyright owner for the value that the publication adds. Another example is if an organization copies text and illustrations from a copyrighted publication to create its own publication, which it uses to add value to the organization’s work.
If someone infringes on a copyright, the author must send the violator a letter demanding that he or she cease and desist, if the author wishes to defend his or her copyright. If the copyright infringement continues, the author can then sue the violator for statutory damages of $750 to $30,000 per work infringed or for the actual damages, whichever are greater. If a court finds the copyright infringement willful, a judge may award damages of up to $150,000 per work infringed, under U.S copyright law.