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Copyrights.


Chocolate570
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Ignore the topic description. I was bored.Anyway.Every website (ok, not every, but you get the idea) has the little famous © at the bottom. But I've always wondered---is this against the law? Because I can guarantee you most of these site owners have not gotten a copyright notice, and not gone to the national service allowing them to copyright their page.Can you copyright a page by just putting a little © on it?Or do you have to go through legal process?I've gone through hundreds of documents (on the web and off) and i can not seem to find the truth. Every single one I look at contradicts the other. If I make a new site, should i just bang the © onto it immediatley, or is there more to it?Thanks.Choco

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Displaying a copyright symbol without owning a copyright is absolutely against the law - no questions ask. In order to display the symbol you must apply and own the copyright before doing so. Same goes for TM (trademark) - that is international as well.And there is a process to obtain a copyright you would have to follow. And it realisitically doesn't matter to you and me, in all honesty, if you do put the symbol on your site even if you owned the right. If someone wants to copy your site or images, they will. The only strength behind a copyright is your ability to enforce it.So, you either have to endlessly surf the web in a paranoid state of mind hoping to see something someone copied from you or hope that someone has seen your site, and then sees another one like it, then is intuitive enough to think that it might not be a template (since we know there are soooo many of those), then contact you to make you aware of it, just so you can write and email threatening legal action IF you cna prove your design came before theirs. Thats alot of inprobability. The fact is, most personal sites don't need it, but illegally display it for the sake of feeling/looking safe.Is the government going to surf the net endlessly cross referencing every copyright symbol they come across, NO. But, if you have been displaying it, and you suddenly become a huge entitiy, then you could be in trouble.I will never put a copyright symbol on a clients site unless I know they have the right. If they insist, then I ask them to sign a waiver that acknowledges my warning.

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Copyright protects "original works of authorship" that are fixed in a tangible form of expression. The fixation need not be directly perceptible so long as it may be communicated with the aid of a machine or device. Copyrightable works include the following categories: literary works; musical works, including any accompanying words dramatic works, including any accompanying music pantomimes and choreographic works pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works motion pictures and other audiovisual works sound recordings architectural works These categories should be viewed broadly. For example, computer programs and most "compilations" may be registered as "literary works"; maps and architectural plans may be registered as "pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works."

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The only real secure feeling you can take away from this is that in the process of applying for a copyright, there is a period of time in which the government researches the submission which gives anyone else a chance to disbute the original creator. So, if you do not have a copyright right now, and then you find out that someone stole it, if you CAN prove you had the idea first, you will be rewarded the copyright.So, when I feel I have something authentic, I've only done this 4 times in my life, you can do something to protect yourself VERY easily. Simply document the idea on a piece of paper in as much detail as you can on one side - use very small print if you must. Then, fold it, stable it, and mail it to yourself. DO NOT put it in an envelope. You want the post office to post mark your actual document. It is a legal GOVERNMENT stamp that prooves without a doubt the authentic date of creation. If the idea later surfaces you have a very powerful case, especially if the person is someone you have had a conversation with or somehow might have gotten wind of the idea.I do not intend to fluster anyone into not using the copyright symbol on your own site, I just would make sure that you don't do it for anyone else unless you are certain they can legally display it. Again, there are some very weak forms of protection for original authors who do not have copyrights, but you have to be well documented to win that case - and I've given you one example on how you could increase your chances of being on the positive side of the battle.

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Thank you, Skemcin. I hope this will help a couple of web builders too, since I for one never knew that. Is it ok if we just added a notice at the bottom of a page that says this:"All content, images, and posts are property of (site name)"?Thanks.

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Displaying a copyright symbol without owning a copyright is absolutely against the law - no questions ask.  In order to display the symbol you must apply and own the copyright before doing so.
I don't know if that's entirely accurate. I think there are exemptions for a lot of things in the list that virtualadz posted, literary works being one of them. For example, whenever a newspaper publishes an issue, all of the stories and columns in that newspaper are copyrighted, and I really doubt they go through a process to copyright everything before they publish. I think that an author of an original work gets the copyright whenever the work is published, and for the web that basically means when it goes online. If you can find any documentation that says otherwise, I would be interested to see it though.
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Good link
HOW TO SECURE A COPYRIGHTCopyright Secured Automatically upon CreationThe way in which copyright protection is secured is frequently misunderstood. No publication or registration or other action in the Copyright Office is required to secure copyright. (See following Note.) There are, however, certain definite advantages to registration. See "Copyright Registration." Copyright is secured automatically when the work is created, and a work is "created" when it is fixed in a copy or phonorecord for the first time.
I haven't read the entire thing, but I believe that in order to actually sue someone or take action over a copyright, you do need to actually register it before you take any action.
PUBLICATIONPublication is no longer the key to obtaining federal copyright as it was under the Copyright Act of 1909. However, publication remains important to copyright owners.
Answers my question..
NOTICE OF COPYRIGHTThe use of a copyright notice is no longer required under U. S. law, although it is often beneficial. Because prior law did contain such a requirement, however, the use of notice is still relevant to the copyright status of older works....Use of the notice may be important because it informs the public that the work is protected by copyright, identifies the copyright owner, and shows the year of first publication. Furthermore, in the event that a work is infringed, if a proper notice of copyright appears on the published copy or copies to which a defendant in a copyright infringement suit had access, then no weight shall be given to such a defendant's interposition of a defense based on innocent infringement in mitigation of actual or statutory damages, except as provided in section 504©(2) of the copyright law. Innocent infringement occurs when the infringer did not realize that the work was protected.The use of the copyright notice is the responsibility of the copyright owner and does not require advance permission from, or registration with, the Copyright Office.
Form of Notice for Visually Perceptible CopiesThe notice for visually perceptible copies should contain all the following three elements:1. The symbol © (the letter C in a circle), or the word "Copyright," or the abbreviation "Copr."; and2. The year of first publication of the work. In the case of compilations or derivative works incorporating previously published material, the year date of first publication of the compilation or derivative work is sufficient. The year date may be omitted where a pictorial, graphic, or sculptural work, with accompanying textual matter, if any, is reproduced in or on greeting cards, postcards, stationery, jewelry, dolls, toys, or any useful article; and3. The name of the owner of copyright in the work, or an abbreviation by which the name can be recognized, or a generally known alternative designation of the owner.Example: © 2002 John Doe
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I have often wondered this too about source code, it can say things like://created 2006 by Peter Pan//care of never never land//use of this script is allowed but only if this comment stays in tactDoes anyone actually keep these comments in tact?If you dont what exactly is it's author going to do about it if they were to see your code? :)

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You automatically own a copyright on any intellectual property (any original writings, poetry, music, lyrics, etc.) that you create. So, no, it is not illegal to 'slap a copyright sign' at the bottom of your webpage. Also, any graphics or photographs you specifically create, you own the copyright to as well. Which is why you need a release to copy a photo on those machines at Wal*Mart, K-Mart, etc. The Photographer, not the subject, owns the copyright from the instant that the work is created.However, if you come up with some genuious literary work and you want to publish it, you may want to register the copyright with the Govt. as soon as possible. Regestering a copyright for your intellectual works ASAP will give you more than enough to sue someone for Copyright Infringement.So go ahead and slap that symbol on anything original that you create.I'm not as well versed on a Trade Mark, I do believe that to have a trademark, you need to register that with the proper agencies. Also, this doesn't apply to most physical things outside of photographs, artwork, and the like. If you invent some wonderful new gadget, you need to apply for a Patent (again, ASAP) to prove that you invented it.P.S., also for any original writings or photographs that you create, you may want to look into licensing them as well. This can be done for free thru a Creative Commons License (obviously just Google that), and they offer different Licenses. When you License something, that is giving someone permission on how to use your original copyrighted/licensed material (or it is Not giving someone any permissions, or only restricted permissions, etc. Creative Commons can go in to more detail).ALWAYS PROTECT YOUR ORIGINAL WORKS :).

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^ That sounds correct, I've heard things like that from different people also. Looks like you registered just to say that, but that's a good first post. :)

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Ok, well after a little more investigative research, I stand corrected (to a degree). The Copyright Act dates back to 1909 and saw major changes in 1979 and 1989. It was in 1989 when it was more clearly defined that registration is not a condition of copyright protection. But, the law does provide advantages to those who do register:http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ1.html#crIf you ever wish to file and infringement suit, you are required to register your work if it originates in the US.All in all, I am incorrectly correct. Its kind of like the opposite of insurance. You don't need to pay/register for it until you need it, but you can have it and use it as much as you like.

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^ That sounds correct, I've heard things like that from different people also. Looks like you registered just to say that, but that's a good first post. :)

Actually, I registered so that I can start posting questions and what not, but that caught my eye, so there went my first post :). I always try not to do the whole 'First post, and here is my opinion', and always opt for trying to come off as if I at least know a little of what I'm saying :) . I did edit my post to show that apparently you DO need to register in order to sue someone for copyright infringement.
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BTW, I did do some searching on Trademarks, here is what I found (various sources, but I just copied Wikipedia):

The ™ symbol may be used when trademark rights are claimed in relation to a mark, but the mark has not been registered with the government trade marks office of a particular country or jurisdiction, while the ® is used to indicate that the mark has been so registered. It is not mandatory to use either symbol, although the force of convention is such that the symbols are widely used around the world. However, it is generally unlawful to use the ® symbol with a mark when that mark is not registered.
So you don't automatically have to register a Trademark, but to use the 'Registered' symbol, you need to have it registered. You can use the 'TM' symbol (™), but it is actually unlawfull to display the 'Registered' symbol (®) unless you have it registered. But for the most part, since it is doubtful anyone here who is discussing the issue is doing so for corporate reasons, all you really need to do is list your copyright information (the symbol, the year it is copyrighted for and year it was/is amended if applicable, and your name/website name) and you're protected.
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