Sharing digital information gets faster and easier every day, and as a result the risk of copyright infringement in the workplace grows proportionally. It takes just seconds for an employee to click-and-drag copyright-protected content into an email, but the resulting infringement litigation can take years and cost millions. The responsibility to ensure that employees are adequately educated on the proper treatment of copyrighted information often falls to in-house counsel. According to a recent survey, however, such efforts frequently fall short.
The problem isn’t that employees want to break the law; it’s that many of them lack a clear understanding of copyright issues and relevant corporate policies. A study by the information industry research firm Outsell Inc. found that 44 percent of employees were unsure whether their company had a copyright policy, while 17percent guessed that a copyright policy existed, but weren’t sure of the details. Another 5 percent believed there was no copyright policy in place at all. In other words, more than two-thirds of employees are at least partially ignorant of their companies’ copyright compliance programs.