Posts Tagged "intellectual property"

Web Space Copyright

Copyright law can be complicated. It’s a byzantine, incomprehensible mess that could easily be interpreted to categorize singing in the shower as a criminal act.

What’s worse is this: If you’re paying a decent amount for your web space and you’ve put many, many hours into creating the content hosted on it, you have a lot to lose. Under laws like the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, your entire site can be taken down for one infringement, at least until such time as you correct it. A DMCA notice can force your web host to suspend service if they want to avoid legal liability—even if you’re not infringing in the eyes of the law, the suspicion is enough to hurt you

So, you want to avoid any possible accusations of copyright infringement. And the way to do that is simple enough: play it safe. Don’t use content which isn’t either created by you, specifically licensed to you, or in the public domain. Fair use exists; it’s entirely possible for you to make non-infringing use of copyrighted content. But once a content holder decides to send a takedown notice, you’re going to need to put a lot of time and work into defending your use of the content, even if you’re right. It’s not worth it; unless you absolutely must, don’t use it.

Copyright isn’t just a stumbling stone for you, though. It’s also something you can use to secure your own interests. You have de facto copyright to anything you create, and that gives you a lot of power. If your content is stolen by another site, you can file a takedown notice to deal with that. De facto copyright is difficult to prove ownership of, though; there are steps you can take to make this more effective.

Filing for formal copyright is chief among these. Formal registration creates a public record declaring you the creator of your website. It also lets you file infringement suits in court, if necessary. This is simple enough; fill out a form with your country’s copyright office and pay the small clerical fee. Many countries even provide for online copyright filing.

Copyright is a big factor in the content on your web space; however, it’s important for you to realize that copyright does not apply to domain names. A domain name belongs to the first entity to pay for it, period. Even if it’s a name associated with your business, there’s nothing much that you can do using the toolset of copyright.

There is one option available to you, and that’s going after a domain that infringes one of your trademarks. If you’ve registered a trademark, you have some limited options: if the owner of a domain name is using that name to impersonate you and profit from your consumer base, or if they’re simply sitting on it so that they can sell it to you at an inflated price, you have the ability to take action. You want to look into arbitration under ICANN’s Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy. If the holder of the name is acting in bad faith, and you hold a relevant trademark, you can force them to stop using the name. This is limited, though; you can’t do anything without a trademark, and you can’t do anything to another entity that has a good-faith claim to the name.