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Copyright Info on the Net

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Charles Oppenheim takes a look at some of the Web sites and Bulletin Boards that contain information on copyright issues.

Copyright is an exceptionally popular subject on the Web, as a simple search on Alta Vista or one of the Web Crawlers will show. The usual rag bag of articles, advertising announcements, academic sites and so on will be picked up by such searches. In this brief article, I want to draw attention to some of the sites that I find useful when wandering lost in cyberspace. The sites are in no particular order, and many of them are linked to each other. I have given them a personal smiley rating as follows:

:-| Good site

:-) Very good site

I have not bothered to list any sites that I would regard as :-(, but on the other hand, the absence of a particular site should not be construed as implying that I think it is :-(; it is much more likely that I am simply unaware of it! It follows, therefore, that I would welcome input from readers who have come across sites that they think are good. Please e mail me at charles@dmu.ac.uk; if I get enough comments, I will update this article from time to time.

One thing the research for this short article has shown me is the crazy length of some URLs and the total lack of consistency of style of URLs. Why do some end with html, some with htm and some with nothing at all? Is there nothing being done to standardise things, I ask myself...

The Web sites

All the URLs listed were checked in September, 1996. This is no guarantee they will remain up, or with the same content, as the weeks go on!

  • http://info.mcc.ac.uk/CGU/SIMA/legal/toc.html
    This is an excellent overview of legal issues associated with the WWW by Andrew Charlesworth, a noted expert in the field. It not merely provides interesting text, but also useful links to other sites, to Codes of practice, some Acts of Parliament, etc. Written from the UK point of view. Charles' rating: :-)
  • http://www.goldnet/users/bn74/law.htm
    This is a general legal source, with links to law firms and useful libraries. Charles' rating: :-|
  • http://www.cla.co.uk/
    The Copyright Licensing Agency's pages provide background on the CLA generally, with some material on copyright and the Internet, and Press Releases relevant to the CLA. The advice and commentary it gives are very much based on the copyright owners' point of view, and in particular, its comments on fair dealing and library permissions when handling electronic material need to be taken with a large pinch of salt.
    Charles' rating: :-|
  • http://www.eff.org/
    For the opposite point of view to the CLA's, "point your browser" (as the appalling cliché goes) at this URL. The Electronic Frontier Foundation is a libertarian pressure group eager to preserve, or indeed enhance, the anarchic aspects of the Internet; its pages are thoroughly professional. Excellent links to many articles relevant to the Internet, including a number of polemical articles on copyright and the Internet.
    Charles' rating: :-)
  • http://www.aimnet.com/~carroll/copyright/faq-home.html
    Frequently asked questions about copyright and the Internet, with the answers, by a well-known US expert. Primarily covers US law, but some coverage of international aspects. Unfortunately, last updated February 1994, and very poor presentational graphics, but still a useful starting point.
    Charles' rating: :-|
  • http://www.copyright.com/ccc_frames.html
    The US Copyright Clearance Center's pages are much better than its equivalent organisation's in the UK (CLA) because of the non judgmental approach and the many links to other official and unofficial sources of information. The links cover both the USA and the rest of the world, and the page is a good starting point for any browsing.
    Charles' rating: :-)
  • http://www.clari.net/brad/copymyths.html
    Ten myths about Internet copyright explored and exploded by an eminent US expert. Although based US law, the comments apply generally. A useful demolition job of, for example, the idea that there is an implied license to copy anything that is put up on the Net, and some useful links to other sites.
    Charles' rating: :-)
  • http://www.press.umich.edu/jep/works/strong.copyright.html
    This is a lengthy article on copyright and electronic publishing.
    Charles rating: :-|
  • http://www2.echo.lu/libraries/en/ecuplist.html
    An introduction to ECUP (European Copyright User Platform), and an invitation to register for their discussion list. ECUP is doing some interesting work on developing model contracts for site licensing of electronic data in academic and other libraries, and I hope once that work is completed, model licenses will be posted n these pages. At the moment, though, the pages are of limited value, and I am not aware of any sites other than at de Montfort University that offer model contracts.
    Charles' rating: :-|, with the potential to become :-)
  • http://fairuse.stanford.edu/
    Useful general copyright site, with many links to other sites, to regulations and statutes, issue papers, reports of key court cases, general articles, etc. US biased.
    Charles' rating: :-)
  • http://findlaw.com/index.html
    This leads you to a search tool for searching just legal Internet sites. Useful to avoid the dross of general search tools such as Alta Vista. For example, a search on the keyword COPYRIGHT gave me just 212 hits, and a glance at a few showed them to be mostly highly relevant.
    Charles' rating: :-)
  • http://lse.ac.uk/decomate/
    Decomate is an electronic library copyright research project involving LSE and Tilburg University The pages tell you about the project and what it is hoping to achieve, and invites you to get involved.
    Charles' rating: :-|
  • http://www2.echo.lu/legal/en/ipr/ipr.html
    Full text of papers published by, or presented to, DGXIII's Legal Advisory Board on intellectual property issues. There are links to other EU papers of relevance, to Directives, to material on international negotiations, the Berne Convention, national laws, and links to useful articles. (I have to say "useful" as one of the links is to one of my articles in Ariadne!) The facility to browse and download the longer documents is handy.
    Charles' rating: :-)
  • http://benedict.com/
    This is immodestly entitled "The Copyright Web Site", but the title is justified. It covers everything to do with copyright and the Web, with many articles and links. Mainly US material, such as the full text of the US Copyright Act. Most of the material is helpful. The site needs updating though - some of the links are to URLs that are now empty.
    Charles' rating: :-)
  • http://www.cic.org/
    The Web Pages of the Creative Incentive Coalition, which appears to be a US based copyright owner's group. Despite the resulting obvious bias, this is an exceptionally useful site, as it provides news items, useful articles from around the world, general commentary, and updates on changes to the law. US biased, but a fair amount of international coverage. Unimaginative graphics spoil it a bit, but because it is regularly updated, it is excellent for keeping yourself up to date.
    Charles' rating: :-)
  • http://www.imprimatur.alcs.co.u k/
    General background on the Imprimatur project, with its own bulletin board, not much used at the time I visited, and a few links.
    Charles' rating: :-|
  • http://batnet.oikoumene/
    Entitled "WWW Multimedia Law", it covers all aspects of the law and multimedia, such as defamation as well as copyright. Useful links to articles and newsletters.
  • http://dorsai.org/p-law/wong_dir/docs/wongpap1.html
    Lengthy material on intellectual Property Law for multimedia creators; US biased, but the issues raised are international. Appears to be an extract from a printed work,
    Charles' rating for both the above sites: :-) if you are into multimedia

    And last, but not least....

  • http://www.cyberlawcentre.org. uk/
    The UK Cyberlaw Centre, run by Hannah Oppenheim, a law student who is no relation. Many links to legal sites of relevance to Internet law; UK bias, informal in style, some useful links, covers all aspects of computer law. Relatively new and still developing, but give it a visit, as us Oppenheims have to stick together.
    Charles' rating: :-|, with potential to become :-)

Newsgroups and bulletin boards

Frankly, I don't think there any worth joining unless you are heavily into this subject. I am not aware of any general list for sorting out simple queries. The various Usenet Groups with "copyright" or "IPR" in their names are not heavily used. The best bulletin board is cni-copyright. To join, e mail listserv@cni.org and put in your message subscribe cni- copyright, but be warned, you will get at least 20 messages a day, discussing detailed aspects of US law, legal cases and hypothetical situations. I find it useful because it keeps me up to date on important US cases and their implications, and on the disagreements and confusion in so many areas of the law. There is a heavy emphasis on Internet and software copyright in the discussions, but it also covers photocopying, libraries, educational use, book and journal publishing, etc.

Date published: 
19 September 1996

This article has been published under copyright; please see our access terms and copyright guidance regarding use of content from this article. See also our explanations of how to cite Ariadne articles for examples of bibliographic format.

How to cite this article

Charles Oppenheim. "Copyright Info on the Net". September 1996, Ariadne Issue 5 http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue5/copyright/


article | by Dr. Radut