Lloyd J Fassin’s is a New York copyright attorney and these myths are excerpted from Fassin's informative website (www.copylaw.com) and are reprinted with permission
Since I’m planning to use my work for nonprofit educational purposes, I don't need permission.
Not necessarily. The key factor is not the user, but the nature of the material, how it is used and whether the new use adversely affects the value of the original work. Since even a nonprofit educational use can undercut the value of copyrighted work, such organizations are not immune from copyright infringement lawsuits.
I don't need permission because I'm going to adapt the original work.
Copyright law grants copyright owners the exclusive right to control modifications of their work. If you add a new layer of copyrighted material to a previously existing work, you have created a derivative work. If it's done without the permission of the copyright owner, you may have violated the owner's copyright.
I can always obtain permission later.
If what you need is crucial to your work, it's better to find out now that it is unavailable. The lack of permission can result in your work being blocked or the payment of thousands of dollars in copyright damages and attorneys' fees if you decide to use the material without permission.
The material I want to reproduce was posted anonymously to an online discussion or news group. That means that the work is in the public domain.
Not true. Neither the ease with which users can upload or download information on the Internet, nor the fact that it is anonymous, places the work in the public domain.
In fact, the copyright act specifically protects anonymous and pseudo-anonymous works from unauthorized copying.
Postings and reproductions of protected material, if not done with the consent of the copyright owner, may constitute copyright infringement.
The material I want to quote is from an out-of-print book. That means the work is in the public domain.
Not necessarily. Out of print does not mean out of copyright. When a book goes out of print it is a temporary state. The rights generally revert to the author, which means the underlying copyright remains unaffected.
Since the work is in the public domain, I don't have to clear permissions.
Not necessarily. Public domain only refers to the lack of copyright protection. While copyright is very important, a work may be protected by other legal theories that survive after the copyright expires.
For example, public domain artwork, particularly distinctive characters (e.g., Beatrix Potter's "Peter Rabbit" illustration), can achieve protection under trademark law and function as a logo or source identifier.
Likewise, mere ideas, which are not protected under copyright law, may be protected under trade secret or contract law. Similarly, identifiable people may have the right to control the manner in which their name or likeness is used.