Re: Copyright Infringement on the Net

Subject: Re: Copyright Infringement on the Net
From: Bob Armao <bob -at- BRS -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 15 May 1996 11:03:09 EDT

The just-concluded STC conference included a lively session on
copyright issues. The panel members (Louis Costanzo, a contractor,
Richard Weiss form 3M, and Terry Dick from West Publishing) provided
some very interesting information. Although none of the above were
copyright lawyers they seemed rather knowledgable. From my

1. The act of publiishing establishes the copyright, so it is not
absolutely necessary to include the "circle C" symbol at all, let
alone at any particular point size. But it is accepted practice to
do so and it can't hurt.

2. The intent to make, or not make, profit has little if anything
to do with copyright infringement.

3. Fair Use is rather complex. Paul Brady has points 2 and 3 about
right when he says:

> Many people believe as this poster does, that if you have a "good," non-
> profit reason for copying and if you credit the author, the copying is fair
> use. This is well-meaning but wrong.

> Fair use is quite limited and crediting the author has nothing to do with
> it. Four principles control fair use. They are NOT cut and dry:

> (1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether
> such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit
> educational purposes;
> (2) the nature of the copyrighted work;
> (3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in
> relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
> (4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or
> value of the copyrighted work (Section 107, Copyright Act 1976)

4. There is really no such thing as international copyright. Every
nation establishes its own copyright laws. The STC Conference discussion
focused exclusively on U.S. copyright.

5. Only the expression of ideas (not the ideas themselves) can be
copyrigted. This leads into some fairly muddied waters. Is the
look and feel of an interface an idea or an expression of an idea?
I'm not looking for an answer, just attempting to point out the
gray area.

6. The expression must be recorded in a permanent way. A spoken
conversation does not qualify. But the U.S. courts have consistently
held that email or other electronic correspondence is a permanent media,
and therefore can be copyrighted.

7. A lot of people confuse copyright with trademarks, but we won't get
into that.

The conference panel provided a useful handout which included sections
of the U.S Copyright law. There was also an address for an information
property listserv. I don't have this on me at the moment, but I'll
retrieve it and post that listserv address plus any other information
sources that escape me at the moment.

And yes, the handout was copyrighted, so please don't ask me to send you
a copy!

Bob Armao
Dataware Technologies
bob -at- brs -dot- com

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