Our Copyright and Image Policy Explained
Our Community Membership Policy prohibits uploading copyrighted content to the community when you do not have a license or permission to do so. This is the member's responsibility, and senior members who have earned our trust are allowed to submit content without any oversight or approval process. Since we are on an "honor system", we generally assume that such uploaded attachment is either an original work, was taken from a site that offers the content for free, or the member has a license or permission to distribute it. However, there is one particular type of content that you might sometimes see here that obviously doesn't fit this description, and thus raises the following question:
QUESTION: "We sometimes see quotations from the publications of Jehovah’s Witnesses, excerpts from the New World Translation, or artwork from the literature on topics/replies at JWTalk? Does the organization endorse this?"
This is a very good question. We should start by saying that that the Branch doesn’t “endorse” any website or service that it does not manage or operate directly. To “endorse” means “to recommend, or to publicly express support or approval of." So the Branch is not going to endorse Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or even JWTalk. However, we have responded to indirect email requests from the Branch to remove content, and we have removed features and made policy changes after having direct discussions regarding the community with a Branch-assigned Circuit Overseer. None of this constitutes an “endorsement”, but we are confident that when they are concerned about some facet of JWTalk or it’s community, they won’t hesitate to reach out to us directly.
Quotations and Excerpts from Literature
Some individuals have the mistaken view that you cannot quote publications or the Bible itself because it’s copyrighted. This springs from a misunderstanding of copyright laws and what they are intended to do for the copyright owner, and maybe never having heard of “fair use” laws either. We’re not going to get deep into these here, as plenty of information is available for you to research on the internet. Plus, laws may vary from country to country. So here is the simplified version:
Copyright laws say it is not okay to completely copy someone’s work. These laws make it illegal for someone completely replicate someone else’s work and redistribute it. This means you cannot reproduce an entire book, chapter, or article and share it, whether you do so by means of a copy machine, by downloading and publicly redistributing an electronic version, by typing it out on a discussion board, or even by copying it all by hand. This likewise applies to copying music and video (bootleg), or even artwork (forgery).
Fair Use laws says you can quote or take a small excerpt from a person’s work and comment on it. A quotation can be anywhere from a single sentence to a couple short paragraphs. Fair Use also allows someone to take a small portion of some other work and create something of your own based on that work. For example, a new song may momentarily use a sample from an older song or some movie dialogue. Or, while it is illegal to upload and redistribute someone else’s video, you can create an original video of yourself giving commentary or critique of the original video. Movie reviewers do this all the time.
What about uploaded images?
Because of this, we have a strict policy about not uploading any electronic publications, multimedia, or images from JW.org, JW Library, or it’s associated publications as downloadable file in our Files Library, or as an attachment to any Post or Reply within the community. We are serious about enforcing this, and if a member Reports a post to us containing such an uploaded attachment, we delete the attachment immediately and send a message to the member reminding him not to do that again.
However, we will occasionally allow screencaps or images that have been written on with a digital pen or marked up with arrows or other additional markings. A member might need such visual representation to explain something he doesn’t understand about an image, chart, or graph. Likewise, another member may find it necessary to make notes over an image or graph to help make his reply clear. Uploading screencaps or images that have been marked up in this manner falls under Fair Use and so there is no need for other members to report these to us.
What about embedded images?
Sometimes the image you see displayed is NOT actually copied and uploaded to JWTalk’s server, but has rather been embedded. Embedding is a common practice on websites, blogs, and forums. Most community software, including the software we use, has a built-in function to automatically display media when a member pastes the link into the post. For example, a user may paste a YouTube link, and it will automatically display the video’s title screen and can be played right from the post. Likewise, a user may paste an image link, and the image will automatically be embedded into the post.
Embedding images means that no copy is made on the post providing the link (the link is just HTML code pointing to the image or other material), therefore it does not give rise to liability for copyright infringement, unless your site deliberately creates the impression that you are somehow affiliated with or endorsed by the site to which you are linking. We, on the other hand, make every effort to make it clear that JWTalk.net is not an official website of Jehovah's Witnesses, nor are we endorsed, sponsored, or maintained by any legal entity used by Jehovah's Witnesses.
Our policy regarding the automatic embedding of images is that a member may embed ONE image only, and may only do so if embedding that image is absolutely necessary to the coherency of his post or reply. You can tell if an image has been automatically embedded or illegally uploaded to our server by either mousing over it on a PC, or by long-pressing on it with your mobile device. If a file location says it’s at “jwtalk.net/uploads” or “jwtalk.net/files” and it is infringing, then you should report it. If the file location says it’s at “jw.org” or “akamaihd.net/assets” (JW.org uses Akamai services for content distribution) then it’s not an illegal copy and you don’t have to report it to us.
Requesting Removal of your content
While the above explanation uses the example of copyrighted content from JW.org, the same principles apply to all copyrighted materials. If you are the copyright holder of content that has been submitted by a member without permission, we're pretty easygoing about addressing disputes. Please read our DCMA Copyright Takedown Policy for information about how to prepare and submit a takedown notice.