Legal Question in Intellectual Property in Virginia


I want to self-publish a book of report samples for medical transcriptionists. For some medical specialties I used report samples from my company's employee (private) website, where account samples are published for employee use. There is no copyright on this information. It will be easy for them to tell that a certain batch of reports came from there if someone in management happens to get a copy of the book, which is quite likely. I live in MD; my company is in VA. Could I be sued for this? Should I contact them and ask permission? Do I have to offer them payment or a portion of the profit or can I simply ask permission and acknowlege their permission?

Asked on 8/05/99, 4:43 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Timothy J. Walton Internet Attorney

Re: Plagiarism

All material on the Internet that is not in the public domain is copyrighted, even if there is no notice and the owner has not registered the copyright with any government. Therefore, you need to have the copyright owner's permission before you can include their work in your book.

How you get that permission depends on your negotiating skills. You can offer a flat fee, a percentage of your royalties or even the mere acknowledgement. You know better than I what they are likely to demand in exchange for their permission.

If you make copies without the owner's consent, you could be liable for satutory damages and attorneys' fees. So find out whose permission you need before you start copying anything.

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Answered on 8/06/99, 2:27 pm

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