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    Copyright

    Hi!!
    Does anybody knows the copyright protection of a website?



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    Last edited by jona_ASE; Jul 26, 2005 at 08:56.

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    Serial Publisher silver trophy aspen's Avatar
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    Any unique creative work is automatically protected by copyright when it enters a fixed form.

    So your website is copyrighted when you make it, assuming it is unique.

    A copyright statement is still a good idea as it informs ignorant people that your site is indeed copyrighted.
    Chris Beasley - I publish content and ecommerce sites.
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    SitePoint Wizard subnet_rx's Avatar
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    there's also free use, which I don't understand, but Google News seems to know exactly what they can and can't do.

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    Hi there! Owen's Avatar
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    Free use is, for example, using a quote or a few lines from an article to review or discuss it. The way Google was using an image isn't necessarily free use since they just show an image, but companies don't complain because the link leads to their own site so it benefits them more than complaining. But technically Google doesn't have permission to use images on their site. I don't know why AFP complained, but I imagine it has a lot with trying to make money from Google. I find it hard to believe that it's a good long-term business decision for AFP. (See http://internetnews.com/xSP/article.php/3491766 for more information.)

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    Webwellwisher Robert Warren's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jona_ASE
    Hi!!
    Does anybody knows the copyright protection of a website?
    I know someone who's been following a Kitty Kelley lawsuit this week.

    I really wish folks would mention where they live before asking this sort of question; it really varies around the world. But if you're talking about the outcome of the Kelley suit, basically what happened (to my understanding) is that the plaintiff didn't register his copyrights, which in the U.S. dramatically limits one's ability to pursue infringement claims. I haven't read the court documents, though I'd really like to.. but the plaintiff dropped his $5M suit rather than having the judge rule against him, and then told the media that he was doing it because a judgment against him would be a blow to web authors everywhere. Cute, but nonsense.

    Fact is, at least in the U.S., you don't "obtain" a copyright (contrary to CNN's reporting); you own it automatically once you've set a work in tangible form, and that includes a website. However, as this guy found out, your legal recourse against infringement goes fairly out the window if you don't register it before kicking off your lawsuit. If he'd registered within 90 days following publication, he could have sued for statutory damages (big bucks); if he's registered at all, he could have at least hit her for actual damages. Filing a multimillion dollar infringement suit without proper registration was a suicide mission; I'm amazed he found an IP attorney even willing to take the case.

    If you're not talking about the Kelley case, well, let's hear it for coincidence.

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    Serial Publisher silver trophy aspen's Avatar
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    Yup, without an actual registration the most you can usually hope for is an injunction.
    Chris Beasley - I publish content and ecommerce sites.
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    Webwellwisher Robert Warren's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Owen
    Free use is, for example, using a quote or a few lines from an article to review or discuss it.
    You're talking about "fair use". Fair use is a legal defense; it means that you've been sued for infringement and now you're pleading to the court to not award damages on the grounds that you reasonably believed that your use was not infringing. Contrary to popular belief, there's no essential right to fair use (in the US, at least), and the court isn't mandated to grant your plea. Also, since fair use isn't a legal right (such as, say, freedom of speech), what specifically qualifies as fair use is very, very open to debate and interpretation; it mainly comes down to a judge's opinion.

    As far as I know, there's no such thing as "free use", unless you count public domain material.

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    Hi there! Owen's Avatar
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    Contrary to popular belief, there's no essential right to fair use (in the US, at least), and the court isn't mandated to grant your plea.
    I don't think so. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_use

    Edit: I made a typo in my previous post. When I said free use in the previous posting, I meant fair use. I don't think there's anything as free use, but I just assumed it was a typo and forgot about it.

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    Hi there! Owen's Avatar
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    Here's more information than you could ever possibly want: http://fairuse.stanford.edu/

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    Webwellwisher Robert Warren's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Owen
    Cute wiki article, but I'm fairly sure I'm correct, as I've actually discussed this at great length with IP attorneys. Yes, there are provisions in the law defining "fair use", but if you read them (the actual law, not a wiki article) you'll learn that they define the standards a judge may use in granting the plea. The words "right" and "defense" have specific legal meanings, and a "defense" possesses nowhere near the strength of a "right".

    "Fair use" is a defense, not a right - it means you're asking a judge to rule in your favor, rather than telling him/her that they have a legal obligation to do so. If a judge agrees that it is fair use (i.e. noninfringing), then 17 USC 107 gives him or her guidelines for making that determination and not awarding damages to the plaintiff (17 USC 504 c2); however, not being an essential right, you can't expect a fair use argument to tie a judge's hands in your favor such as in, say, a free speech case.

    The right/defense distinction is an important one in constitutional law. More copyright commandos would be well served by learning more about it.
    Last edited by Robert Warren; Mar 23, 2005 at 15:28.

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    SitePoint Member buzaza's Avatar
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    if I post articles obtained from other sites on my own site but stating the source of the article(eg. author, original website that published it), does that violate the other sites' copyright?

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    If you post the entire article or anything more than a title, yes. The notion that you can simply say where the article came from and avoid getting permission to use it is a very misguided one. Fair use can cover you for copying portions of an article (like an excerpt) but it is extremely limited. Taking a full article or even a few paragraphs is taking a copyrighted work no matter how many times you link to the author.
    - Ted S

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    SitePoint Member buzaza's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ted S
    If you post the entire article or anything more than a title, yes. The notion that you can simply say where the article came from and avoid getting permission to use it is a very misguided one. Fair use can cover you for copying portions of an article (like an excerpt) but it is extremely limited. Taking a full article or even a few paragraphs is taking a copyrighted work no matter how many times you link to the author.
    What about if you write your own abstract about the article then put a link to the original article after the abstract. Is that ok?

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    Aside from possible deep linking issues you would not be using anyone else's copyright.
    - Ted S

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    Webwellwisher Robert Warren's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by buzaza
    if I post articles obtained from other sites on my own site but stating the source of the article(eg. author, original website that published it), does that violate the other sites' copyright?
    Depends on whether the owner of the other site is the current copyright owner of the article; the copyright belongs to the actual author unless he or she has transferred it with a signed contract. If the other site doesn't own the article (either because they themselves stole it, or because the author did not grant them the right to authorize further redistributors), then even they can't give you permission to reprint. Ultimately you have to go to the actual copyright owner, which is usually (but not always) the original author.

    In other words, if you receive reprint permissions from a publisher (online or offline) that weren't granted to the publisher by the actual copyright owner, and then reprint the article yourself, both you and the publisher could be nailed for copyright infringement.. with some serious, serious financial penalties, if the actual owner has done his paperwork.

    And as far as fair use is concerned, remember: it won't keep you out of court, if the copyright owner disagrees that fair use is involved. Like I said, it's not a right - it's a point of intrepretive arbitration, a possible out once it's in the judge's hands. You won't get a lawsuit quickly thrown out on fair use grounds; you can only use it as a defense that may, if the judge agrees, prevent an award of damages. So be careful dancing around the issue, figuring you're safe claiming fair use.. you may be skating on some very thin ice.


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