Computer Crime Research Center


Protection of Copyright and Adjacent Rights on the Net

Date: April 19, 2004
Source: Computer Crime Research Center
By: Andrey Belousov

Copyright Law guarantees certain exclusive rights to the owners of intellectual property. Let's consider the most typical delusions about copyrights on the Internet.

- "There is no copyright on the Internet. I may use all that I have found."

It's not true. Copyright laws are applied to the Internet too. If the author does not state that he allows free use of his work, we must consider that there is no such permission and copying of this work is prohibited.

- “If I own a website, it means that I own a copyright on it.”

It is right only in case if you create your website from the very beginning till the very end on your own: write HTML codes and texts, make photos and draw pictures. Initially, a copyright on a website is owned by authors – programmers, photographers, artists and designers. In order to become an owner of your website, you should sign an agreement of transition of the copyright on your website to you or the website creation contract should precondition such transition.

- “When I republish an article on my own website, I do advertising for the author. I am sure he won’t argue.”

Only the author should decide whether he needs such advertisement or not. Before you use someone else’s work, you should ask for the author’s permission.

- “There is no copyright statement on the website, hence I can freely use its materials.”

It’s not true. The presence of such statement is not necessary at all. Copyrights appear automatically when a piece of work is created.

- “If I do not raise money from using of someone else’s work, I do not violate copyrights.”

Probably it is true. Use of someone else’s work without permission of the author violates a copyright irrespectively of the fact that offender does or does not get profit from such use. This affects only the extent of his responsibility.

- “So, I cannot use anything at all?”

Copyrights are not applied to facts or ideas. None can enjoy the exclusive right to own any fact. Copyrights secure only the way of representing this fact or words used to represent it. Authoring may be used without author’s permission for certain purposes: criticism, informative of scientific goals. It is allowed to cite published works and to use it in education purposes.

The owner of a copyright may announce his rights using a copyright sign. The copyright sign in the electronic document of the author, in our opinion, should consist of a visual mark ©, a name of the author or possessor of a right, a year of its first publication (for example: ©, Jim Morrison, 1970). But its contents should reflect a number of compulsory information properties and evenly fix legal activities of the author.

These properties, in our opinion, should include:
- full name of the author or possessor of a right;
- type of the work (object of a copyright);
- name or topic of the work;
- country of the origin;
- date of creation and publication of the work;
- source of publication;
- author’s or possessor’s of a right e-mail address;
- abstract of the work;
- note (wish) of the author;
- date of publication on the Internet website;
- IP address of the hosting server on the Internet, where the work was sent for publication and where it was published;
- unique number of a computer, where the procedure of setting a copyright sign and digital signature was initiated;
- public key of the author;
- note “The document was signed by (full name of the private key owner) personally, date of signature, name and version of software applied to a legal procedure of signing the document with a digital signature”.

Main ways of protecting online publication are as the following:
- Publication of the article in the printed medium (the easiest and the most secure option, on conditions that, certainly, the date of publication is earlier than appearance of the counterfeit material);
- Verification of a notary of the date of creation of the work (this way of protection is performed using notary verification of the prepared printed article with notification of the date and the author of the work);
- software and hardware protection (application of a program designed to protect copyrights and legal interests of authors of electronic publications on the Net by displaying the work excluding its copying and/or other unauthorized replication or alteration);
- other methods may involve various public measures to morally influence on copyright violators (not as much protection as otherwise pressure on offenders).
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