Copyright laws apply to works on the internet

On Behalf of | Nov 29, 2017 | Firm News, White Collar Crimes

With the continued importance of search engine optimization, businesses in New York are always searching for fresh content for their websites. This has given added importance to blogs and articles, the main source for good SEO practices that give help their sites achieve higher rankings in search engine returns. There is a wealth of material for just about everything on the internet, and many times, businesses will copy and paste text from another site to their own, unknowingly breaking copyright law.

Purdue University defines copyright as an author’s right to choose how his words, or works, are used. Writing is considered an art form, and to be copyrighted, it must be original text of the author, and it must appear in a “tangible” medium, such as the internet. Copyright can be applied to many different types of works, such as music, dance, movies, art and literature. Graphics are also considered original works of art and can be copyrighted too.

Beginning in 1978, copyrights protect these works for 70 years following the death of the author. At that time, they pass into the public domain, for free use by everyone. Works by Charles Dickens, for example, are now in the public domain, as are most government works of any date. Items without copyright are in the public domain as well.

According to FindLaw, copyright law does permit use of short portions of material without having to obtain permission from the author. Movie critics, teachers, reporters and researchers are all allowed to use direct selections from copyrighted work for their own purposes. This is due to the nature of their jobs, which are to inform, teach and learn, and also due to the fact that they are not using another’s work for commercial gain or self-promotion. 

When used on the internet, articles may or may not include the name of the author, but that does not mean they are not copyrighted. It is up to the writer to verify that material is available for use or is copyrighted. Many original articles are written by employees or contract workers, and these texts are typically copyrighted by the company itself.

Many times, bloggers and certain companies will grant permission to use portions of their work as long as they are attributed correctly and/or are linked to the original source. Other times, they ask that a writer seeks permission first, which gives them the opportunity to give specific guidelines.