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Copyright Tutorial: The web

What on the web is copyrighted?

  • Web pages (text, design, pictures, graphics, music and other audiovisual works)
  • Electronic mail
  • Newsgroups and discussion lists
  • Internet coding

Every document or image available via the Internet, unless you know to the contrary, is protected by copyright. The form of distribution (print, airwave, or computer network) makes no difference in the copyright protection provided to a work. The fact that a copyright holder elected to share his work over the Internet does not mean that anyone can freely appropriate it for other uses.

The technology of the Internet makes copying an item very simple. It is easy to adapt, modify, resend, forward, copy or display an item. Copyright law still applies, as do the fair use exemptions.

Electronic information

Electronic mail

  • the content is owned by the author of the message. You legally cannot make copies or distribute without the author’s consent
  • fair use does not apply since the work has never been published
  • keep private email private unless you have permission. Don’t forward it to news groups or listservs or post it on your webpage.

Newsgroups and discussion lists

  • postings are considered published works
  • you could copy, for non-profit purposes, a few sentences or paragraphs
  • probably okay to repost to another newsgroup unless specifically stated by the author

Web page information

  • use of a Web page involves display
  • private display is expected; public display, such as to a class, is not
  • most Webmasters can be reached electronically with ease
  • programs designed to capture Webpages for use offline involves copying and displaying and may have monetary consequences for the creator regarding hits on a Webapages.
  • small amounts are probably okay, but entire pages need consent

Internet code

  • HTML code is copyrighted–it is a creative work
  • downloading and adapting may be a violation-ask permission

Links to a site, as long as they are to the main page, are not a violation. Remember, permission can always override any limitations imposed by law and/or guidelines.

Electronic mail

  • the content is owned by the author of the message. You legally cannot make copies or distribute without the author’s consent
  • fair use does not apply since the work has never been published
  • keep private email private unless you have permission. Don’t forward it to news groups or listservs or post it on your webpage.

Newsgroups and discussion lists

  • postings are considered published works
  • you could copy, for non-profit purposes, a few sentences or paragraphs
  • probably okay to repost to another newsgroup unless specifically stated by the author

Web page information

  • use of a Web page involves display
  • private display is expected; public display, such as to a class, is not
  • most Webmasters can be reached electronically with ease
  • programs designed to capture Webpages for use offline involves copying and displaying 
  • and may have monetary consequences for the creator regarding hits on a Webapages. small amounts are probably okay, but entire pages need consent

Internet code

  • HTML code is copyrighted–it is a creative work
  • downloading and adapting may be a violation-ask permission

Links to a site, as long as they are to the main page, are not a violation. Remember, permission can always override any limitations imposed by law and/or guidelines.

Subject Guide

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Lori Bryan
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361-570-4161