Aardvark Daily aardvark (ard'-vark) a controversial animal with a long probing nose used for sniffing out the facts and stimulating thought and discussion.

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Who Owns Your Online Content? 12 February 2002 Edition
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Million $ Ideas
At last, the contents of Aardvark's "million-dollar ideas" notebook are revealed for all to see!
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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.

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 pages.

But wait... there's more!

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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.

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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 copyright law.

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 it's okay 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 court case 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 Compuserve 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 stuff?

Well local web designer Dave Blyth of World-Webdesign.com thinks so. Look what he did when he found this site 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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Every month, Aardvark scores over half a million hits, at least 150K page views and delivers more than 6GB of data to visitors.

All this traffic has meant that I've had to shift the site to a new server to ensure that your daily dose is always fresh and delivered to your browser with minimal delays.

I also invest over 300 hours per year writing the daily column and compiling the day's news index -- all for your illumination and entertainment.

If you haven't sent any money to help offset the costs of running this ad-free, 100% Kiwi, always fresh, often controversial site then you can give yourself the warm-fuzzies this Christmas by doing so now.

Just drop by, click on the Aardvark, and hand over your loot.

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Just add a couple of lines of JavaScript to your pages and you can get a free summary of Aardvark's daily commentary -- automatically updated each and every week-day.

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Contact me if you decide to use either of these feeds and have any problems.

Did you tell someone else about Aardvark today? If not then do it now!

Security Alerts
MS server bugs open the door to hackers (ZDNet - 12/02/2002)

IE bug allows full MSN Messenger hijack (TheRegister - 9/02/2002)

Mac Office vulnerable, Microsoft warns (AAP - 07/02/2002)

BlackIce Firewalls Vulnerable To DOS Attack NewsBytes - 6/02/2002)

MIRC Chat Users Vulnerable To New Attack (NewsBytes - 4/02/2002)

Virus Alerts
Gigger worm can format Windows PCs (The Reg - 11/01/2002)

Happy New Year' worm hits Windows (ZDNet - 19/12/2001)

E-mail worm Gokar spreading (CNet - 13/12/2001)

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