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  1. #1
    One website at a time mmj's Avatar
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    Hi there.

    I run a site for a group of three students known as "The Mostly Amphigory".

    We write articles, and I've published a number of these articles on the website.

    We have all agreed that I am allowed to use any of the material they have written that relates to "Amphigory" on the website, or in any material, electronic or printed, that relates to the website.

    This means that in order to post an article on my site, the article must be an Amphigory article, and the author retains the ownership of the article, while I have the right to publish it on the website.

    Normally I would write "Copyright 2001 Thomas Rutter. All Rights Reserved." on my site, but I am wondering.

    Should I write something like "Articles are the property of their respective authors" or something as well? Should I include a legal section that explains it all that is separate from the page?

    Your opinions are welcome.
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  2. #2
    SitePoint Wizard westmich's Avatar
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    You're using the term copyright, are you actually copyrighting them or just writing it at the bottom?

    Have the other writers signed some type of agreement that states who has what rights?
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  3. #3
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    If the site is yours then you could say something to the effect of "unless otherwise noted, materials on this site copyright, etc. etc. and then on each article attribute the copyright to the author.

  4. #4
    SitePoint Addict mh8759's Avatar
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    i believe you're just writing copyright mark and notice without truly copyrighting the material..if that is the case, then don't bother too much what to write..
    i usually just write Copyright 2001 Name Surname and that's it..

    Mare

  5. #5
    One website at a time mmj's Avatar
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    westmich and mh8759: There is no such thing as not copyrighting something. Everything is copyrighted. It doesn't matter whether I write a copyright notice or not.

    Let me compare this to sitepointforums:

    As a term and condition of posting messages in these forums, we are allowed to retain ownership of the messages you post, but we are also allocating sitepoint the right to keep the message in their forums or in any promotional material relating to their forums.

    There is no "copyright 2001 mmj" at the bottom of each message though. Palzer's idea is good, but you don't really see it on websites do you? Maybe I should include a separate page of legal info or info about our policy.

    I am assuming that the "guidelines" link helps to clear things up a bit on this.

    For my site, yes the other two of us did agree to this.
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    ********* Callithumpian silver trophy freakysid's Avatar
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    Could those of you that have used the term "copyrighting" please explain what it means. I ask this because under Australian law the intellectual property owner doesn't have to do anthing to "copyright" their intellectual property. Intellectual property automatically belongs to its creator and that's that regardless of whether you copyright mark your work or not. I had assumed that this was universal internationally as I understand intellectual property is covered by international convention.
    Last edited by freakysid; Apr 4, 2001 at 16:24.

  7. #7
    SitePoint Wizard westmich's Avatar
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    The intention is that you own what you create unless you're creating it as a service/job for another party. This is all well and good and $.75 will buy you a cup of coffee.

    The party that walks into court with a receipt from the US Copyright Office will generally walk out the owner.

    "Possession is 9/10 of the law"
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  8. #8
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    i think that you should put Copyright 2001 Thomas Rutter. All Rights Reserved at the bottom of your pages.
    in my opinion, what this says is that the website as a whole (design, content, etc....) is copyrighted by you.

    the authors transfer their rights to you (meaning that they give you permission to use their articles) for the purpose of using them on the site, but they still own the copyrights to their articles.

    it's the same as a magazine accepting images for publication. the magazine is copyrighted by the company but the photographer still owns the copyrights to his image.

    with that being said, if you have a seperate " copyright info " page somewhere on your site, you can say something like " blabla.com copyright 2001 by t. rutter. articles copyight by their respective authors"

    and of course make sure that you give the autors either a proper credit or bi-line.
    . . . chris

  9. #9
    One website at a time mmj's Avatar
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    Thanks atomicmunky that's what I was thinking (after careful examination of sitepoint.com, etc).

    Freakysid, I have an answer and a question for you.

    Answer:
    Yes, in the USA there is need to do anything to copyright your work. It is the same as Australia. You don't even need to write a publication date anymore. It's like this all over the world (well, at least in places who take international interllectual rights agreements).

    However in the USA you can REGISTER your copyright, which doesn't affect the law. If just effects what can be claimed if the law is broken and it is won in court. I think, and I am not sure, that it allows you to claim magistrate's fees in addition to your entitled compensation. It also serves as a record so that the powers that be can keep information about you, invading your privacy (?)

    It doesn't affect the fact that people are not allowed to steal your work.

    Question:
    I live in Australia, and I own my website. It is owned in an Australian address. It is hosted in the United States.

    I assume that since it is hosted in the USA, then the laws about what I can put on it are governed by US laws (which are better).

    And since the content belongs to me in Australia, the interllectual property comes under Australian laws (which are better).

    Am I right?
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  10. #10
    SitePoint Wizard creole's Avatar
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    "ownership" begins upon creation of material and ends at death + 75 years.

    I think that is the way it works in the US.
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  11. #11
    ********* Addict jaiem's Avatar
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    (not a lawyer, not a legal opinion)

    If you're publishing the articles with the names of the authors maybe you can say something like "Printed with permission"? And give a copyright notice for the page. Thus, you are indicating the article belongs to the author who has given you permission to reprint it and the format of the web site is your own property.
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  12. #12
    ********* Callithumpian silver trophy freakysid's Avatar
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    Could someone please explain how the US CopyRight Office works. Say I've knocked up a web site. What do you do to get this copyright certificate? What happens if I put up some new pages, would I need to register these as well. What proof do I supply to prove my ownership when I front up to this office? How are your claims of ownership substantiated at the time of registration? Are there similar offices to this in other counties? Curious and perplexed.

  13. #13
    SitePoint Enthusiast S.K's Avatar
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    Originally posted by westmich

    The party that walks into court with a receipt from the US Copyright Office will generally walk out the owner.
    "Possession is 9/10 of the law"
    Yes, westmich! Thatz the way the cooky crumbles...!
    Finders keepers, losers weepers!
    In India, folks have been using turmeric for ages, milleniums and zilleniums for its medicinal properties, but suddenly some smart man copyrighted it at US! And current international convention on IPR covenants that if a thing is registered in one country, it is binding on all.
    So where are we. But so far as pulp-print goes, whatever is published in a magazine, it is your copyright unless you have abdicated it expressly to the publisher or someone else. I don't know about how it is applicable to web publishing.
    But copyright is a tricky and dangerous stuff.
    I read somewhere that someone owns the copyright for the ubiquitous "Happy Birthday" song and if you want to use it commercialy, you have pay in the order of $500 for it.
    Peace!
    Last edited by S.K; Apr 5, 2001 at 18:59.
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  14. #14
    SitePoint Wizard westmich's Avatar
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    Originally posted by S.K
    I read somewhere that someone owns the copyright for the ubiquitous "Happy Birthday" song and if you want to use it commercialy, you have pay in the order of $500 for it.
    Peace!
    That is absolutly true!
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  15. #15
    One website at a time mmj's Avatar
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    To me, "registering" for copyright seems like a ridiculous notion. It sort of implies that people are allowed to steal my work, or even "register copyright" for my work, if I've not "registered". That's not the case.

    If someone has stolen my work that is copyrighted, and it goes to court, I walk into court with my attourney and a large amount of evidence proving that it is my own work, including earlier versions of the work, maybe annotated drafts. Furthermore, I'll have in intimate knowledge of my own work.

    S.K. are you implying that if I don't register copyright for my own work then someone else might! Because if that is so in America, then I can't see how a copyright registration can be worth the paper it is written on. If it is given out without proof of ownership, then it certainly doesn't signify proof of ownership!

    I'm not criticising anybody here, I'm just saying that I think the US concept of "registering" a copyright seems wierd.
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  16. #16
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    these are questions #2 and #13 of the FAQ at the copyright website - http://www.loc.gov/copyright/faq.html

    2- When is my work protected?

    Your work is under copyright protection the moment it is created and fixed in a tangible form so that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.

    and

    13- Do I have to register with your office to be protected?

    No. In general, registration is voluntary. Copyright exists from the moment the work is created. You will have to register, however, if you wish to bring a lawsuit for infringement of a U.S. work.

    i don't think that the copyright office just hands out certificates to the first person that submits an application with the fee a copy of the work. i'm almost sure that some research is made to make sure that the person who submits a piece of work is the actual author of the work.

    if someone tries to copyright your work, it doesn't necessarily mean that you are screwed. you can contest claims but you should also be able to prove your claim of authorship. one good way of doing that is if your work was published, preferably prior to the claim.

    i wouldn't know what else to say. if you have a piece of work that you think might be worth alot of money or that might make you alot of money, then why not save yourself the trouble and go ahead and register it.
    i have been told by some people that i can mail a copy of the work to myself with registered mail, and not open the package to make sure that the contents are from the date that is stamped on it, but i was also told that this method wouldn't stand for too long in a legal court.

    getting back to the original question again, another you can do is to have the authors sign a release, giving you permission to use their work, and you won't even have to give them credit. but i don't think that would make you too popular.

    what i would do is this: have the authors write and sign a little note saying "i give so and so permission to use my article for the purpose of publishing it on website.com" and then give them proper credit. then you can put "copyright 2001 your name" on your website and you don't have to worry about the authors' copyright issues.

    phew....
    . . . chris

  17. #17
    One website at a time mmj's Avatar
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    Thanks atomicmunky,

    Yes, they signed a statement that says that they retain ownership of the article, but giving me the permission to use it on the website.

    When it says "infringement of a U.S. work" - this work is all written in Australia and owned by an Australian so I assume I wouldn't have to worry. Is this correct?
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  18. #18
    ********* Callithumpian silver trophy freakysid's Avatar
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    Thanks for the info atomicmonkey. I'm having a squiz at the link you provided now. What I'm understanding now is that the process of registering copyright and having copyright ownership certified is a pre-emptive way for a copyright owner to have their claim to copyright investigated and established as fact. Cool. I also notice that it takes about 8 months for this process to occur.

    OK, I can see that this would be useful in publishing (books, music, manuscripts, etc) and that if my I were to *accidently* switch off the life support system of my famous WWII hero veteran grandfather I could go running down to the copyright office with a copy of the will and his diary and preempt any slimy publisher from publishing his works. However, I can't see that this is all that relevent to the dynamic nature of web publishing. Corporate logos and marketing are covered by a sperate system - Trademark - which seems very relevent to the web (I can't go and start a search engine called "Doogle" or mimic their logo - except for "fair use" - satire or review or academic purposes).

    So I'd be interested to know if any webmaster has used this system of copyright registration. Thanks again.

    PS.

    OK - I'm reading now that it is a legal requirement in the US that a copy of all published works (recordings,books, manusdcripts, etc) be deposited with the library of congress. As the copyright office is part of the library of congress it seems practical to register for copyright at the same time and proactivly establish intelectual ownership.
    Last edited by freakysid; Apr 6, 2001 at 00:43.

  19. #19
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    it is my understanding that publically available information is not copyrightable. so theoretically, you can start a search engine called Doogle as long as you get the information that is searched on your own and you're not using someone else's pre-gathered info. i'm pretty sure that the data that google, yahoo or any other search engine provides is freely available to the public.

    think of it this way, the data in a calendar is freely available to the public. more than likely, all calendars have a copyright notice on them, but there's nothing to stop you (legally or morally) from creating, printing, and distributing/selling your own calendars.

    i'm just guessing at this point so don't quote me, but i would assume that the same would apply to a website. meaning that the design of the website would be considered original work while the content might not be, as in the case of a database where the design of the db might be copyrightable but not the actual data.

    here's some info on international copyrights - http://www.loc.gov/copyright/fls/fl100.pdf

    mmj - i think what the "infringement of a U.S. work" part is saying that, you can't take someone to court in the US for infringing your copyright, unless you have registered it in the US. it's the same as saying, i can't take you to court in germany if you stole my wallet in india.
    . . . chris

  20. #20
    One website at a time mmj's Avatar
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    I'm not sure where I learned about copyright, but a couple of years ago I was quite interested in it and did quite a bit of research.

    It's all about "acceptable use"

    Any design or content is copyrighted from the moment it is stored, written, dropped on the ground, scrawled on a toilet door etc.

    And party wishing to refer to this information can use it, as long as it is within the terms of acceptable use.

    Acceptable use includes:
    - Using a portion of the work for purpose of review
    - Using with prior permission of the author.

    A design can be considered a copyright infringement if it can be reasonably seen that any elements of it or basic layout is copied, and that it is unlikely that this could have been a coincidence.

    Please bear with me because this isn't fact, this is just my limited understanding...

    I could create a search engine called "doogle" as long as it could be reasonably shown that the design or any elements of the design do not resemble google to the extent where it is probably not a coincidence.

    So if it a search engine with a logo at the top on a blank white page with a search box below, with remarkable similarities to google, it would be wrong.

    As for the logo design, that would come under copyright. As for using google's actual logo, or the word "google" that would come under trademark law.

    That's my understanding. Thanks munky for the international info by the way.
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  21. #21
    ********* Callithumpian silver trophy freakysid's Avatar
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    I'm sorry I've taken this thread away from the initial question, but I think mmj has the info he was initially after....

    atomicmunky, I wasn't suggesting that the Doogle example would breach copyright - I was making the point that in this example copyright is not the issue, but trademark is the issue. If you started a search engine called Doogle then (and I'm assuming the owners of Google have taken out an international trademark on the name and logo) then that would breach their trademark. I've taken out trademarks myself. I was making the point that trademark is probably a more relevent issue to web design as it is to commercial marketing in general. If you want to protect yourself from competitiors coying your look or name or branding then that is what trademark is for. Coca-Cola for example would have hundreds of registered trademarks including things right down to the "swirl".

  22. #22
    SitePoint Enthusiast S.K's Avatar
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    Copy Left!

    I'd like to recommend the following resources:
    Brad Templeton's A Brief Intro into Copyright and 10 Big Copyright Myths
    The copyright laws are not air-tight stuff.
    But you are likely to have a litigation on your laps if you do not follow the law of the land and also be not aware of international agreements and conventions that your country subscribes to.
    The turmeric case cited by me is a classic one in the off-shoot of the WTO agreements and the Governments are starting a rear-guard action to challenge the copyright registrations on their traditional ip assets which have been hitherto taken for granted as public domain.
    I've also heard that the famous Indian rice strain "Basmati" has been registered as someone's copyright at US and it is being contested now.
    So, as a matter of abundant caution, mention your rights in your website which alsmost all commercial and content sites do and also register the generic content if it is in the scheme of things of the land.
    My case rests!
    Peace!
    S.K
    Last edited by S.K; Apr 6, 2001 at 05:07.
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  23. #23
    One website at a time mmj's Avatar
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    I assume these button are a treasured Vbulletin trademark.
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  24. #24
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    ok, 2 more links and i swear i'll leave this thread alone

    1- about international copyright
    http://www.bitlaw.com/copyright/international.html

    and

    2- all sorts of info from the Australian Copyright Council
    http://www.copyright.org.au/page3.htm

    if anyone wants anymore links to copyright related pages let me know, i have about 20 of them.
    . . . chris

  25. #25
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy TheOriginalH's Avatar
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    Spanner...

    i don't think that the copyright office just hands out certificates to the first person that submits an application with the fee a copy of the work. i'm almost sure that some research is made to make sure that the person who submits a piece of work is the actual author of the work.
    So the copyright office, after "researching" the matter decided that the name "Tumeric" was an American idea that deserved protection against plagerism the world over have I got that right?

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