One of the constant mysteries for me in my B2B career has been how few industry professionals understand or care about copyright and trademark issues. In practice, attitudes toward copyright seem to fall into one of two extremes: either blasé indifference or sheer timidity. As an example of the first, take the oft-encountered belief that it’s OK to use someone’s copyrighted content if you just credit the producer—especially in the case of images. Or, to swing to the other extreme, the all-too-common editorial myths that you have a legal obligation to include a ™ or ® symbol when referring to a trademark in editorial copy and that you cannot link to a Web site without permission.
Why should so many care so little about such matters? One reason may be that, until recently, there simply wasn’t much need for most people to care. For most of the 20th century, copyright was a stable, boring subject. While there were interesting issues now and then introduced by new technologies, such as photocopying or CD-ROMs , they had little impact on the everyday work of most people working in B2B.
All that, of course, has changed.