Dear Jessica, I hope you can explain something to me. I want to share some dressage tests with friends who live in other states and don't happen to be members of the USDF. I was going to copy them and mail the copies out, but my husband says this isn't legal. So I said I would type them out on the computer and e-mail them to my friends, although that is a lot more trouble, and he said that isn't legal either. So I said that maybe I could just put them on my homepage and then my friends could get them there without me having to send anything to anybody, so that wouldn't be illegal, would it? He still says not to do it, but he is only in his second year of law school so I don't know whether he really knows this for a fact. Do you think there would be any problem if I e-mailed some tests (that I typed) to my friends or put them on my homepage? If you say it's illegal or wrong, I won't do it.
Thanks for your wisdom and horse sense, Kim
Hi Kim -- I'm glad you asked that question, and I'm going to go along with your husband. I'm not in law school, but I am an author, and so I do know a little about copyright.
Copyrighted materials aren't meant to be reproduced without the copyright holder's permission. Sometimes this is the author; sometimes it's the publisher, but SOMEBODY owns the copyright on anything in print, and you need to get permission before you reproduce that item.
Have you noticed the copyright information at the end of each horse-sense post? It's okay, and legal, for horse-sense subscribers to print out copies for themselves, or to put up copies at their barns, because I've given permission for them to do that. It would NOT be okay, or legal, if it were done without my permission.
If the USDF and AHSA have not given you permission to reproduce those tests for the use of others, then please don't do it. The copyright issues involved aren't just technical matters, they exist for a reason. The USDF and the AHSA depend on the sale of those tests for a part of their income. They SELL them -- just as they sell the USDF Calendar of Competitions and the USDF Dressage Directory.
If you copy tests and make them freely available to people who would otherwise be buying them, you are taking money away from the people who OWN the tests and the rights to the tests. The profit from the sale of those tests is rightfully theirs -- and these organizations do a lot of good things, and need the money they earn.
The internet has changed some things, such as the speed with which we can exchange information. But it hasn't changed copyright, and it hasn't changed ethics -- a lot of work and financial investment goes into creating and publishing those dressage tests, and it IS illegal, improper, and unethical for anyone to take them, copy them, and make them available without the copyright holder's permission.
So encourage your friends to support the AHSA and the USDF by joining those organizations! These organizations deserve our support. In that way, your friends will get ALL the current tests, and you won't have to worry about the legal implications of violating anyone's copyright.
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