Note: This column represents the opinions
of the writer and as such, is not represented as fact|
Like many businesses and a growing number of individuals, you spend hours
and/or large wads of cash to create a very impressive website of which
you are rightly proud.
the contents of Aardvark's "million-dollar ideas" notebook
are revealed for all to see!
Visitors come to your site and marvel at its visual impact, depth of
content and wonderful ergonomics.
Life is good, the sun shines, you are happy.
Need Cutting-Edge Copy?|
As NZ's longest-running online commentator, I'm looking for
extra syndication opportunities for this daily publication -- or I'm happy
to write casual or regular material specifically to order for print or
Net-based publications. If you're
interested, drop me a line
Then you find out that the beautiful images you have (had) crafted for your
web pages are appearing on other websites all around the world.
In some cases, the thieves are so blatant that they also waste your
bandwidth by simply embedding links to your graphics within their own
But wait... there's more!
If you've published anything on the Web then chances are
Google has a full
and complete copy of it in their cache.
Of course you can direct Google to kill those copies -- but isn't copying
for commercial gain without the permission of the copyright owner an
infringement of copyright law?
Even "Fair Use," the exclusion to copyright which
allows people's work to be reproduced without permission, almost always relies
on such activities not conferring a commercial gain to the copier. To quote
section 107.1 of the US copyright act as it defines "Fair Use":
The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of
a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes
Given that Google is a "for profit" business, and that one of its major
commercial advantages is access to all those cached copies, it could be argued
that it is breaching the copyright of billions of web pages. Of course only a
fool would bring legal action against Google when it's so easy to mark your
pages as not to be cached.
Aardvark Marketplace NOW!
But what do you do if you find your online material is being stolen? Do
you have a legal leg to stand on?
Well, if you have large amounts of money and believe in feeding the sharks you
can call your lawyer and have him wade through the mire of international
Unfortunately, chances are that even after you've mortgaged your house, sold
your kids into servitude and forced the wife to walk K' Road to fund such an action,
you still won't see much in the way of results.
The problem is even worse now that a US court has ruled that
to use thumbnailed versions of another site's graphics for your
own commercial advantage.
I suspect the same kind of ruling would not be forthcoming if a website chose
to post "soundbytes" (audio thumbnails) from popular music recordings on their
website. Chances are that the superior lobbying power of the recording industry
might just sway those upright judges to slam such a move as breaching the
original publisher's copyright.
Things might get even wierder though if British Telecom win their
against US ISP Prodigy. BT are claiming that they own the patent for
hyperlinking and a judgement in their favour, combined with the decision in the
thumbnail case would make it legal to copy other people's pictures but illegal
to link to them without paying a royalty to BT -- go figure!
The shockwaves that would arise from a court upholding BT's patent claims for
hypertext linking would rock the Net far and wide -- and for that reason, I
suspect that the company won't prevail in the way it would like to.
However, it is entirely possible that the BT hyperlink case will resolve
itself much the way that the
GIF Patent did some years ago. Compuserve has successfully asserted
its patent rights -- but it hasn't had much impact on the popularity or
use of the popular graphics format.
But is there an alternative to calling in the sharks when people steal your
Well local web designer Dave Blyth of
thinks so. Look what he did when he found
using one of his graphics by linking directly to it.
An gram of smarts beats a kilo of legalese every time ;-)
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