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Content, Writing and Copyright Forum

    
copyright/content theft and links
greenmangoes




msg:924003
 2:26 am on Mar 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

Will linking to a site be adequate 'protection' from copyright infringement (if any) or accusations of content theft? I basically summarized and compiled info available from various sites and presented them in (what I hope is) a more reader-friendly way and attributed sources much like you would in a term paper (footnotes style). Am I guilty of copyright infrigement?

And do I need to ask permission first before I can make those footnotes 'links' to the actual sites/articles I took the information from? Also if I make those links within the body of the text?

I'm new at this (obviously) so do forgive my ignorance.

 

rogerd




msg:924004
 2:53 am on Mar 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

Welcome to WebmasterWorld, greenmangoes!

Whether you are guilty of copyright infringement will do doubt depend on whether what you have done constitutes "fair use". Chillingeffects.org has a rather extensive discussion of fair use.

Linkage won't absolve you of copyright violation. Some content owners may appreciate the fact that you are trying to acknowledge their work, but it won't affect the basic fair use concept.

What you are describing could go either way. We don't do legal advice here. I'd start by studying some resources on fair use, and if it's still not clear, check with an attorney who understands copyrights. Or, just cut back your usage of other content to the point where nobody can argue that it goes beyond fair use.

greenmangoes




msg:924005
 3:23 am on Mar 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

thanks for the swift reply.

an additional question though: what if the topic is general info (like for example, about computers)? how else can i make sure that i'm not infringing unwittingly? what if i say the same thing (because after all, there is only so much 'new' information about the computer), in a different way?

and what about linking? do i need to ask the sites' owners' permission first?

thanks again.

hlbuss




msg:924006
 6:03 am on Mar 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

Topics that are common knowledge, for the most part, are not copyrightable. Again, it depends on how common you're talking about.

Basically, you can link to anyone you want. There has been some talk recently about the legality of deep linking, or linking to a page other than the home page, but I doubt it's something to worry much about. When in doubt, ask permission. Also, always remove links when the site owner asks you to.

JessicatheCopywriter




msg:924007
 5:21 pm on Mar 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

Greenmangoes,
I just recently joined as well (so, welcome from another newby!) and have run into the same questions in my own work about how to re-write "common knowledge content" in your own style. What can happen is that you start to question if you are really presenting enough of your own ideas and material to really call it your own.

Sometimes you get so close to the work that it is hard to see things objectively. A good thing to do is to get a second pair of eyes on it. Show your research information and final draft of your work to someone you trust will be honest with you. Ask them to pick out places they might question infringement or see parallels with someone else's work.

If there is any feeling of "this just doesn't feel right" then that is a good indication that it probably isn't and therefore should be re-worked.

-JessicatheCopywriter

bird




msg:924008
 6:33 pm on Mar 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

Topics that are common knowledge, for the most part, are not copyrightable.

Information as such is not copyrighteable by definition. Copyright only covers the expression and/or presentation. If you state the same facts in your own words, then you have nothing to worry about.

and what about linking? do i need to ask the sites' owners' permission first?

No.

figment88




msg:924009
 7:44 pm on Mar 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

It should also be remembered that copyright laws vary greatly by country.

Fair Use is mostly a doctrine of united states law.

In gereral, providing attribution of quotes is more important for countries outside the US.

As far as I know, the only websites that courts have said you cannot link to are ones that contain decryption software (US), Nazi progaganda (Germany, France).

bufferzone




msg:924010
 8:50 pm on Mar 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

When in doubt, Ask. I would always ask if my work is a digest of somebody else’s work or article or just lean a little on something made by others. Asking is free, sent your article when you ask and tell the original owner how you plan to link, You will find that most people are more than happy to be quoted, even if it is just as a source of inspiration, and quite often they will link back to you.

If someone replies in a negative way, send your sincere apology and rewrite your work based on somebody else’s work, it is not worth the trouble if someone gets angry

greenmangoes




msg:924011
 1:20 am on Mar 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

thanks very much for all your answers. will keep everything in mind. much obliged =D

mgream




msg:924012
 12:51 pm on Mar 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

Although it is true that information that is in the public domain is not protectable, it can still be an infringement to copy someone else particular expression of that information.

In a case in the UK over product leaflets, the defendant used a leaflet based on someone elses. The defendant claimed the material was in the public domain. The judge agreed that the material was, but that there was still infringement because the defendent was making use of the skill and judgement of the author. Clearly if the defendent himself had sourced the material from the public domain there would not have been a problem.

If the information really is in the public domain, then in fact it's quite easy to write an original expression of it, so there would seem to be little excuse for leveraging off someone else expression.

To address the problem here: the other posters have covered the issues: (a) attribution is not always necessary, but is the safest and fairest thing to do, (b) summarising could be a problem depending on how you're doing it.

bird




msg:924013
 3:34 pm on Mar 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

It should also be remembered that copyright laws vary greatly by country.

Pretty much all national copyright legislation is based on the Convention of Berne [wipo.int]. While the details of implementation my vary, the applied principles are the same everywhere.

Fair Use is mostly a doctrine of united states law.

Fair Use is a concept defined by Article 10 of the Convention of Berne, and should therefore be implemented in all conforming legislations.

figment88




msg:924014
 5:43 pm on Mar 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

Pretty much all national copyright legislation is based on the Convention of Berne. While the details of implementation my vary, the applied principles are the same everywhere.

1) The Berne Convention went into effect in last couple of decades. While there might be some retroactive provisions, AFAIK it only applies going forward. Since the bulk of public domain material is older, it has little bearing on the current use of public domain material.

2) The Berne convention only sets minimums which is usually life of author plus 50 years. The EU pushed by Germany opted for a uniform life plus 70. In the US after the Sonny Bono Act it is mostly life plus 95. See [onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu...] for term differences across many countries.

3) The Berne Convention made the Rule of Shorter Term optional. For foreign works, if copyright term varies between the country originally published and the country is it being used, some countries use their own rules and some accept the shorter term.

4) The Berne convention does not exhaustively list everything that needs to be covered by copyright. In the US and most other countries, you can take a photo of a building and sell postcards or put it on a website. In France, you would have to pay a royalty. As far as I know, Western Europe is the only place the accords copyright protection on databases.

5) The Berne Convention does not force uniformity in protection of moral rights. In the US, if something is in the public domain someone can reorder it, colorize movies, and otherwise deface it. This right is far more limited in many other countries. Most countries other than the US require attribution for works that may be freely used (right of paternity).

6) The Berne Convention deals with giving authors protection of their works. Definition of an author varies greatly from country to country for different items. For example, if want to use a movie without permission in Switzerland you have to wait 70 years after the director is dead, in the UK it's 70 years after the death of the last to survive of the principal director, the authors of the screenplay and dialogue, and the composer of any music specially created.

Fair Use is a concept defined by Article 10 of the Convention of Berne

This is a fundamental misconception people have about international copyright laws. The Berne convention says Free Use, many countries also have a concept of Fair Dealing. None of these are the same as Fair Use in the US. These are not trivial distinctions but have all sorts of ramifications for quoting, copying, academic research, and otherwise using copyright works without permission.

Hobbs




msg:924015
 12:41 pm on Mar 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

Good Discussion,
I see many concentrating on the "how" the information is copied or re-writen, what about the "why", would that absolve you of infringment?

Case: Somone copies a paragraph from your "About us" section in your website, and pastes it along with a link to your site and display it in the context of promoting your site or business in a links page. And in a way that leaves no doubt on intent, also provides the means for you to have your information edited or removed, would that be acceptable?

bird




msg:924016
 1:04 pm on Mar 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

I see many concentrating on the "how" the information is copied or re-writen, what about the "why", would that absolve you of infringment?

Your motivation is irrelevant.

What you're describing is a citation of a short excerpt from the original work, which is allowed. As figment88 has explained above, this can be called "free use", "fair use", or something else depending on which treaty or law you're looking at, but I think those fine distinctions only become relevant in very hairy borderline cases. The basic principle is that you're allowed to "cite" from a copyrighted work as long as you only cite a small portion, make it clearly recognizable as citation, and give reference to the original author. As far as I know, this principle is implemented in one way or another in all copyright legislations.

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