Copyrights and Copywrongs

Ever copied something from another site and used it on yours? You might want to think twice about how you do it. This issue's tip shares the dos and don'ts of borrowing content from other Web sites.

Hot Tip - Cyberetiquette: Copyrights and Copywrongs

Imagine you've painted a beautiful picture, and then someone knocks you out of the way and signs his or her name to your work.

"Hey," you shriek, "that doesn't belong to you!" Legally and    artistically, everyone would acknowledge that you've been robbed of your creative masterpiece.  While it seems absurd in the physical world, this kind of theft happens all the time in cyberspace. If you visit a Web site and just "copy and paste" its text, images, videos, music, or even its architecture and navigation, you are wrongfully taking credit for another person's work.

Stealing other people's material, copyrighted or not, may invite a barrage of unwanted harassment. A violator may be kicked off of his or her ISP, or be threatened with legal action.

While the sordid world of Internet copyright sorts itself out, prevention is the best medicine.

pawprint.jpg (1373 bytes)Create your own material. Design your site with that panache and sense of style that is your own.

pawprint.jpg (1373 bytes)If you really want to include an article, sound file or video clip from someone else's site (or any other media source), ask permission.

While many sites may not allow you to reproduce everything you'd like to use, the site will often allow you to post a small portion of what you want and will allow you to link back to its site.

If you've tried to contact the creator of original material without avail, use its material with caution. And be sure to add a caption that credits the source.

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