There is a misconception among Internet users that terrestrial copyright laws do not apply in the electronic environment. This essay describes the operation of UK copyright legislation in web pages and intranets. (Page 3 of 5)

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The theme that each of these cases show is that although deep linking and framing have resulted in complaints regarding misrepresentation and lost advertising revenues by not displaying a companies homepage as it was intended to be viewed, linking and framing do not themselves constitute copyright infringement. In fact Web guru, Nielsen (2000, p.179) on the subject of Web usability, explicitly encourages the use of deep links, adding that they are "what the affiliates programs in e-commerce are about". "In the meantime, lawyers will advise clients to proceed with caution when deep linking to another site" (Nimmo, 2000).

There are exceptions to the copyright laws that exist to protect web pages and these include making a necessary back up copy of a computer program and also exceptions, which fall into the category of "Fair dealing". The main exceptions in the category of fair dealing are: private study and research, criticism, review, news reporting and incidental inclusion. For the act of private study and research to apply, the copyrighted material must be used solely to "advance the knowledge of the student or researcher" (Rubinstein, 2001, p3). With regard to criticism and review, the work that is copied from a web site must either be criticised or used in the critique of another work and sufficient acknowledgement must be given to the author.

To qualify for the exception of news reporting, the report must be on a "current event". Again this is highly subjective and in a legal dispute would ultimately reside with the ruling of the judges. Rubinstein (2001) cites the case of Hyde Park Residences Ltd v Yelland in which the newspaper published an unauthorised image from a CCTV camera to illustrate a point about the relationship between the late Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed. An earlier ruling was overturned however, with the introduction of the Human Rights Act 1998 on the grounds that the image was used to reveal news that was in the public interest.

The final exception to copyright, that of incidental inclusion, may not really apply to web sites, however, if a computer screen displaying a web page was included in the background of a TV programme for example, this act would be excluded from copyright infringement on the grounds that its inclusion was incidental. In an attempt to clamp down on the illegal copying of protected work from web sites, there is a growing trend amongst Internet companies to introduce technological measures. Using computer code to watermark images and disable such functions as Print Screen and Paste, web site owners are physically able to prevent copying.

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Publication Date: Monday 14th July, 2003
Author: Ukwdc View profile

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