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Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Copyright and your audios

Lots of hypnotherapists make their own audios, either as downloadable MP3s or as CDs. Some just make them available to clients, others view them as a valuable income stream, and a chance to offer support to those who cannot attend one to one sessions, because of availability, geography or personal preference. Problems can arise, however with planning the content of your CDs because the copyright laws around the use of hypnotherapy scripts have a few complications.

And, as promised in my last blog, I'm going to run you through some of the pitfalls so you can avoid them.

What you can do with published scripts

Copyright law protects original works of authorship such as books, manuscripts, etc and this includes hypnotherapy scripts. Here is the UK, you do not have to 'register' material to make it copyright, anything you write and publish are automatically covered. Authors have exclusive rights to:
  • Reproduce the work
  • Distribute copies of the work to the public
  • Perform the work publicly
  • Display the copyrighted work publicly
  • Prepare derivative works based upon the work
As you can see, this poses particular challenges around hypnotic scripts because of that element of 'public performance'. Is using a script in a session a public performance?
We took advice on this and the consensus is that no, it isn't. It would be nonsensical to publish books of hypnotherapy scripts but not allow anyone to use them. The same goes for scripts you download (free or paid for) online.
So there is no problem at all using published scripts in your client sessions, although from a therapy point of view I’d strongly recommend personalising them rather than using them verbatim. (More about this here or in my book.)
If you record the therapy session live (as it happens) and give a copy to your client for their personal use only, that's OK too, on condition that you don’t make a separate charge for the recording, or give it to anyone else.

What you can’t do with published scripts

It is a copyright infringement to pre-record your reading of someone else’s script. It makes no difference whether you give the recordings away free, or charge for them.

If you particularly want to record someone else's script, you could always ask them. We recommend doing this in writing, so that if you receive permission you can keep a permanent record, in case there is ever a query.

Some books and websites offering scripts state specific terms and conditions about how they can be used. In this case these guidelines apply even if they are different to the general rules given above. But again we recommend keeping a screen shot or other dated record of the T&C in case they change in the future.

Other considerations about copyright

Copyright for the written word covers the way in which an idea is expressed, not the idea itself. This is why there are a number of versions of approaches like hypno-band and hypno-birthing, relaxation inductions, or imaginary walks along the beach.

In theory you can therefore take an idea or metaphor from a script and reword it, tweak it and record your own version. The principle was first applied in Baker v. Selden (1879), and has since been codified by the Copyright Act of 1976.

However, if your version is too close to the original it might be considered a 'derivative work'. If it came to court you’d have to establish that your version was different enough from the original for this not to apply. For example, JK Rowling can’t sue everyone who writes a story about a boy wizard, but if he was an orphan called Barry Trotter, wore glasses, had a lightening shaped scar and went to Pigwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry she would probably have a case. 

There is a condition called 'fair use' which allows you to use small amounts of someone else's work but this really only applies to areas such as book reviews and works of scholarship, where not being able to quote small excerpts would be unreasonable. It doesn’t apply to simply combining bits of more than one script and recording that!

What should I record then?

If you want to make CDs for your clients or for sale, approach script copyright holders for permission, or buy 'royalty free' script collections. These may be a bit more expensive but they come with permission for you to record them.

Otherwise, and it really is the best option, simply write your own content. There are some guidelines here about how to do this. Make it different and original, and you'll probably make more sales anyway. 

Please note: this advice is given in good faith, but we are not copyright lawyers. We're also based in the UK and the rules might be different elsewhere. If in doubt take advice from an expert like http://www.copyrightcircle.co.uk.

We have another blog about copyright, focussing on the use of images, HERE.

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Author: is Senior Tutor At Yorkshire Hypnotherapy Training, which offers multi accredited hypnotherapy practitioner training in Wakefield and York, along with taster days and foundation levels. Debbie has written a chapter on working with IBS in The Hypnotherapy Handbook, aimed at students and newly qualified hypnotherapists and also offers supervision and continuous professional development (CPD) for those in practice. Please contact Debbie to find out more.

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