A Legal Minute with Intellectual Property Attorney Paul Lesko

Worrying about copyright law is not something that keeps me up at night. However, it is a topic that all writers will encounter at some point in their career. Over at the Missouri Writers Guild blog, I recently interviewed Copyright expert Paul Lesko, who happens to work three floors below me.

Paul Lesko, IP Attorney

Whenever I have a copyright question, instead of doing a google search and praying, I shoot him an email. As he says in his interview, following any copyright advice on the Internet is not a good idea. I consider myself lucky that his advice is just an elevator ride away. However, this April, any one who attends the Missouri Writers’ Guild annual conference will get a chance to pick his brain, as he’s presenting a breakout session on copyright law.

If you don’t want to wait that long, or you can’t make it, you could win a consultation with him by checking out my Q&A and leaving a comment. Here’s snippet:

Sarah: What is the answer to the most common question you get asked by writers?
Paul: The most common question-type I hear from writers runs along the lines of “How much of another’s work can I use?” Whether it’s a desire to use song lyrics to start a chapter, borrow quotes from another’s webpage or utilize a story a friend told you, the answer is always the same: “It depends.” (Laughs). I’m sure that’s not the answer you wanted, but every instance is so fact specific that no general answer can cover every situation…other than if you develop your own ideas, your own song lyrics and don’t borrow quotes or stories from anyone else, only then can you be reasonably sure of being bulletproof.