Everyone knows that they need an Internet presence, but how many people know how to protect all the work that goes into their site? It’s not as simple as writing a novel and gaining a copyright in the technical aspect because those who have popular ranked sites and pages have material that changes everyday.
You need to be concerned about your url or address
- Copyright Protection and Infringement
- Trademark Protection and Infringement
- Your Links, Framing and Tags
- Your Imported Media
A domain name can be a trademark. Lets say that for some reason Friday’s restaurant did not pick up Fridays-dot-com because they have a parent company and the site is an extension of the parent company like parentcompany-dot- com/Fridays. You have a restaurant that has specials on Friday so you buy Fridays-dot-com. Could your url be infringing? (Even though the name of your restaurant is not Fridays?)
Yes, it could. Oprah Winfrey sued in the past over the name “Oprah” as a trademark, when a company picked up a url that contained “Oprah” connected to another word following even though names are generally not considered trademark worthy. Oprah won! The company in India was ordered by an International court to take down the website and get a new domain name.
The point is that just because the domain name CAN be registered doesn’t mean it is good. New domain extensions are coming called gTDNs “generic Trademark Domain Names” and more on that in another post.
You should obtain a trademark registration for your domain name. The Internet Server Providers have very little liability when it comes to copyrights and trademarks.
You can also protect your domain by “domain hoarding” and that means to buy everything confusingly similar, using other extensions that are less popular or similar names. This keeps your marketing and trademark name true to the brand. However watch out for Asian Domain Name scandals.
Being original is the important idea when not infringing on another’s copyright. However, it is a fact that there is not an original idea and though it seems strange, your original idea is in someone else’s brain too!
You need to understand the Fair Use Doctrine as provided by the link here. This is a good start.
You can upload public domain or license free photos, but check the site for the policies. Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, if you infringe, the first demand should be an option to remove, however if you are really interested in this issue, read the Righthaven cases. Other times you may copy and paste or embed into your site, but you must have permission.
If you cannot write, you need to find a writer. Avoid copying and pasting from others sites. This can get you in trouble.
A website can be copyrighted by making a screenshot and registering with the Library of Congress. Here are some more details.
There are times when you can use the trademark of another. Refer to this article about Coca Cola that used the Coke logo without permission. Is this a violation? No, according to the defense of the Fair Use Doctrine; The article is educational research and comment on the marketing of Coca Cola for the purpose of public education. Even if the article were paid for, it would still be permitted as long as there is no defamation.
Your Links, Framing and Tags
About Linking – Basically, a HREF or Hypertext REFerence, (an HTML link) tells a browser to stop viewing content on one site and to browse another. The threshold question for infringement is “how does the new view appear to the browser?” You can imagine if someone else’s content looks like it is on your page you have got some level of infringement.
Another type of link is called an “IMAGe” or IMG also an HTML link. This would be when you see a little pop up box with words or images appearing on the site in its own box. The content in this box is stored somewhere else and if it is on another’s site and you do not have permission and once again cannot use the Fair Use Doctrine as defense, you are likely infringing.
Infringement by Derivative Work – When a person picks up a link to another site and embeds it into their site, they may be unknowingly creating a derivative link. How important is that link to the article? If the link is imperative to tell the story on the article and the article is not newsworthy, educational or comment/criticism then you could be infringing.
You can also cause defamation by linking. If you link to another’s site and your material is defamatory to that party again, you could be infringing.
Likewise, if you link in a way that looks like the work you have linked to is going to be credited by another’s copyright, then the third party will have a claim against you.
Framing means that there is an opportunity to present different data from several different sources on the same page. This means you are framing third-party information embedded into the browsers and that the linking of separate parties may cause defamation between them. You have to be very careful when reporting news articles and blogging.
As people now learn to link, linking practice and method cases are just being filed.
Your Imported Media
If you are picking up pictures for your site, or videos you have several choices.
Buy them royalty free. Go to public domain sites and examine the license. Create them. Use the Fair Use Doctrine as a defense. That’s about it for your choices! If you write an article and swipe someone’s picture it is not proper use of The Fair Use Doctrine, unless the image is necessary for public education, criticism, and political or other opinion. Being aware isn’t the end all, it’s just the beginning!