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Copyright Laws


This is just a touch of the information I'm doing about the copyright laws.

The Copyright Protection Act states something similar to what I am going to say:

The act of placing a copyright notice on a published work indicates that the work is copyrighted, has a copyright application pending and/or applied for. Also a copyright is enforceable by affixing a copyright notice to a published work even though no application is made. This is called an "Implied Copyright". It has the same legal standing as actually having applied and been granted an official copyright. You are protecting your work by declaring that this is your exclusive content and is indicated by the affixation of the copyright indicators and a copyright date.

The information about who paid for the website or any advertising is a requirement of the Federal Election Commission and is not just something that nice guys add to their sites.

MIDI files are considered computer programs not music as defined by the DMCA. Not a copyrightable information is contained within. Therefore, you do not have to list an author or their copyright. However, they are now trying to change this law and add midi files to the copyright list as a requirement to accredit authors of songs for even these midi files. And it looks as though the law will pass. I highly suggest that you do not use a midi unless you can give credit where credit is due, as you maybe risking legal action if you do otherwise.

Bullet Use caution when dealing with copyright issues.

Bullet Be sure of your source before using any information on your web site.

Limits to Copyright

Copyright is the right to exclude, not to publish.

Copyright does not give its owners the right to sell or distribute, for example, libelous email messages. Also, of course, works that are obscene or invade another's rights of privacy or publicity are not publishable just because they happen to be covered by copyright.

Basic limits to copyright.

Although email messages and web pages may enjoy copyright protection, rights are subject to several fundamental limits. For example, only expression is protected, not facts or ideas. Also, later works that merely happen to be very similar (or even identical) to earlier works do not infringe if they were, in fact, independently created. Sources of general information on those topics are listed below.

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Copyright protection subsists from the time the work is created in fixed form. The copyright in the work of authorship immediately becomes the property of the author who created the work. Only the author or those deriving their rights through the author can rightfully claim copyright.

In the case of works made for hire, the employer and not the employee is considered to be the author. Section 101 of the copyright law defines a "work made for hire" as:

  1. A work prepared by an employee within the scope of his or her employment; or

  2. A work specially ordered or commissioned for use as:

    1. a contribution to a collective work

    2. a part of a motion picture or other audiovisual work

    3. a translation

    4. a supplementary work

    5. a compilation

    6. an instructional text

    7. a test

    8. answer material for a test

    9. an atlas

If the parties expressly agree in a written instrument signed by them that the work shall be considered a work made for hire.

The authors of a joint work are co-owners of the copyright in the work, unless there is an agreement to the contrary.

Copyright in each separate contribution to a periodical or other collective work is distinct from copyright in the collective work as a whole and vests initially with the author of the contribution.


Two General Principles


Mere ownership of a book, manuscript, painting, or any other copy or phonorecord does not give the possessor the copyright. The law provides that transfer of ownership of any material object that embodies a protected work does not of itself convey any rights in the copyright.


Minors may claim copyright, but state laws may regulate the business dealings involving copyrights owned by minors. For information on relevant state laws, consult an attorney.

What All of it Mains

Copyright law precludes most uses of others' works without explicit or implied permission. Because some uses are okay, people often ask which uses are okay.  Such questions often miss the point. The most important risk is not of liability, it is of suit.

Consider graphics for example. Those who use a relatively small amount of another's work -- if not copied in detail -- may face small risk. Still, it is much better to work from scratch. Things represented to be in the public domain may not be. People looking for graphics have an alternative -- commercial clip art sold for such uses. Unlike freeware picked up on the web, it should also have warranties against infringement.

Litigation is expensive. People concerned about, say, the nuances of fair use must not become so entangled in legal details that they forget that anything generating income or interfering with another's potential income dramatically increases the chance of suit.

The most compelling questions are: (1) Is a proposed use of another's work likely to offend, and (2) Are expected benefits worth the bother and possible cost to resolve a dispute?

Why not ask? Only if the owner says "no" does the second question need to be addressed.


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