Re: Computer rights

Subject: Re: Computer rights
From: Beth Friedman <bjf -at- WAVEFRONT -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 16 Dec 1997 17:02:18 -0600

In our previous episode, Smokey Lynne L Bare said:
> .....for your approval...

> Any publication of a work (before it is protected under the
> copyright law) makes it *public domain*. This means both sending it
> out on the Internet, and/or copying it for people to read on paper.
> (Case in point - copy machines in libraries.) The correct thing to
> do is to put a Copyright notice on the work EACH and EVERY time it
> is published.

Um, I'm sorry but I don't approve. This is simply not true. Ever
since 1987, I believe, when the U.S. became signatory to the Berne
Convention, copyright exists from the moment of creation, whether
there is a copyright notice on the work or not. Copyright exists
whether the copyright has been registered (though you can only sue for
statutory damaages, not real damages, if copyright isn't registered --
which can be done after infringement). As of 1987, it's actually
quite difficult to put something into public domain -- I think it
requires a specific statement of such.

From the other end of things: It is NOT legal to copy material off the
Web that doesn't have a copyright notice on it. It is NOT legal to
use copyrighted material without permission, even if you're not making
a profit on it.

The laws concerning copyright have changed twice in recent memory, in
1978 and (I think) 1987. Both of the changes have made striking
differences in "what everyone knows" about copyright.

There are lots of resources on the Web; unfortunately, it's a rather
tedious search, because the word "copyright" appears on zillions of
pages that have nothing to do with the subject of copyright.

Beth Friedman bjf -at- wavefront -dot- com
"Speak not to me of pasta Marinara.
I know we laid in lots of boar last Tuesday.
I am the king now, and I want a sandwich." -- John M. Ford, or

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