Copyright And The Internet

David Rothman at TeleRead linked to Franklin Pierce Law Center professor Thomas G. Field’s guide to copyright on the internet.

Field gives a clear overview of of the limits to copyright, the ways copyright applies to web sites and email, and the limited law on linking and framing web content. In his section on risks, he notes:

Copyright law precludes most uses of others’ works without explicit or implied permission. Because some uses are okay, people often ask which uses are okay. Such questions often miss the point. The most important risk is not of liability, it is of suit.

Litigation is expensive. People concerned about, say, the nuances of fair use must not become so entangled in legal details that they forget that anything generating income or interfering with another’s potential income dramatically increases the chance of suit.

This is about as much as we’ll get from Field about recent attacks on fair use by big media companies who are increasingly suit happy. Still, the guide is useful.