[CH] Copyright violations and sites

Brandon Nuttall (bnuttall@fido.mm.uky.edu)
Tue, 02 Jun 1998 08:58:37 -0400


I work at a university and copyrights and multimedia are a big topic of
discussion. I am not a lawyer but have participated in several seminars and
discussions of this subject.

1) What is a copyright? Copyrights specifically grant the right to make
copies, make derivative works, distribute, and make public performances or
displays (Title 17, sec 106, parts 1-5).

2) What may be copyrighted? Original creative works of authorship fixed in a
tangible media of expression (a magazine article, a book or novel, a film or
video, a web page, and others).

3) Myths:
   a. If it doesn't have the little c in a circle symbol, it is not
copyrighted. No, under US law, it doesn't have to have that. When the work
was created, it was copyrighted.
   b. If it is on the internet, it is in the public domain. No, copyright
still applies.
   c. If you don't charge for it, that still constitutes fair use. No, the
copyright holder has the right to set prices and control distribution.
   d. (In academia,) if I only use it in class, then that is fair use.
Sometimes, see the fair use guidelines (web links to follow).

When building a web site, you can include a link to someone else's site on
your pages without notice or permission. While it is good etiquette to ask,
in this case, the builder of the referring site is not presenting the
material as their own. When there is more than just link, that is, putting
pages from other sites into frames (even though it is just putting in a
link), that use would seem to be a copyright violation; I don't know if this
has been tested in court. Your work is being disguised as someone else's,
presented in a way it cannot be differentiated from the user's own, and
(with advertising) they are presumably making money off of it. (Why else
have a commercial site with advertising?) This should be a violation of the
copyright holder's right to control the public display of their work.

In the case of someone altering pictures or text, that is a derivative work
and again, the copyright holder still controls the right to make derivatives.


    http://lcweb.loc.gov/copyright/  -- the US Copyright office home page
    http://lcweb.loc.gov/copyright/circs/circ55 -- info on multimedia works
and how to apply for copyright (the the home page for links to all the forms)

See for more information see:


Keep in mind, if you have not registered your copyright (which is not
required under US law), it is up to the copyright holder to prove the work
is theirs and that they do indeed hold the copyright. Since registering
copyright is easy, do it. The registration gives clear evidence of when the
work was "fixed in a tangible media." It is also up to the copyright holder
to enforce their copy rights.

This is really a tricky area in multimedia, internet, and educational
settings. Be careful, ask first, document and cite sources.

Brandon C. Nuttall

BNUTTALL@KGS.MM.UKY.EDU  Kentucky Geological Survey
(606) 257-5500           University of Kentucky
(606) 257-1147 (fax)     228 Mining & Mineral Resources Bldg
                         Lexington, Kentucky 40506-0107