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Web copyright issues

From: "Christopher P. Lindsey" <nospam@mallorn.com>

I've been meaning to send a note to this list about image duplication,
but just can't seem to find the time...  So I suppose it's now or never.

I apologize for bringing this up again, and I assure you that I'm not
trying to make this an issue once more.  I'll just say my piece, and
once I'm done I don't care if anyone responds or not.  In fact, I'd
rather they didn't.  Of course, I will welcome comments or questions
directed to me, personally (lindsey@mallorn.com).

Anyhow, I was pretty shocked and somewhat horrified when I learned
that Shauna's image had been republished on the Web.  As an amateur
photographer about to launch my own site with thousands of plant phtoos,
this was everything that I had been fearing.

There is a misconception amongst Internet users that everything on the
Internet is free -- Web sites, email, and of course, images.  To put
it bluntly, they're wrong.  United States Code, Title 17, Section 107
covers all of this quite clearly, and is an extension of International
Copyright Laws covered at the Berne Convention in 1972.

According to these laws, the mere creation of an object automatically
copyrights it.  It doesn't need to be filed with the US government
(although it helps if you're filing a suit, but it can even be done
after an incident), nor do you have to pay any extra fees to do it.
According to law, the mere creation of this email message automatically
If you were to resend it, I could sue for damages.  Of course, I wouldn't
get very far since there's really no loss of income by stealing this text.

But what can happen if you copy an image or document?  Usually it's
nothing.  But the penalties can be severe.  You could be sued for damages
if someone was counting on that work for income.  I plan to let magazines
use my photographs, but their value is significantly diluted if people
are sending copies right and left.

Even worse, if loss of income is valued over $2500 (not entirely
unreasonable) and more than 10 copies were redistributed, the crime is
considered a felony.  Of course, this is the tricky part.  Sending a
message to a list of people doesn't count as one duplication -- each copy
sent to each person's mailbox is a duplicate.  Each hit on a Web site
that downloads the image is also considered republication, so if more
than 10 people see it, you're out of luck (there's some special cases
here, but they get a little too into it for this email (i.e. fair use,
social circles, etc.)).

But can you imagine being a convicted felon because you copied an image
and resent it without permission?  That would kind of ruin my day (not
to mention my life -- I'd have to quit my job since NCSA can't hire
felons, and getting a new one probably wouldn't be too easy either).

In addition, lots of things are copyrighted that in ways that you just
wouldn't expect.  For example, a sculptor sued Warner Brothers because
his piece displayed in Los Angeles was shown in the movie Batman Forever
without his consent.  Even though the city paid $2.5 million for the
sculpture, the artist still retains rights to it:


Likewise, you could even be sued for purchasing a painting and then
destroying it.  Just because you have a copy in your hands, whether
given freely or for profit, does not endow the recepient with rights
superceding the rights of the original creator.

Here's some references that people mind find interesting and/or


   US Code


   Lee, Lewis C. and J. Scott Davidson.  Intellectual Property for
      the Internet.  Wiley Law, 1997.
   Hall Stucker.  "The Download Dilemma: Pirating Images from
      Cyberspace."  Photo District News. July 1995, 54-55.

   Web Issues
   An Intellectual Property Law Primer for Multimedia and Web Developer
   Intellectual Property Rights Overview
   Copyright and the Internet (with an Aussie slant)

I hope that this helps...


P.S.  Remember, lindsey@mallorn.com is my address.  I had to fake it to
      look like this address since onelist restricts postings to list
      members, and nospam is the account that I use for the archives.

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