Copyright, Privacy and Trust


Over the past two decades the Internet has become very popular worldwide and there has been numerous transformation and advances in technology across all areas of society. The effect of this has been the “greatest revolution in publishing since Guttenberg invented the printing press in 1452” (Jones, 1997). According to The National Academies Press there is an "astonishing abundance of information in digital form” (2000, p, 23) thanks to the Internet and the World Wide Web. Even if the Internet is usable in the sense that if can provide “unprecedented ease of access” (2000, p, 23) to information it poses challenges to copyright, trust, privacy because it "is at once one of the world's largest libraries and surely the world's largest copying machine” (2000, p, 23).

What is copyright?

Copyright is the “legal right granted to an author, composer, playwright, publisher, or distributor to exclusive publication, production, sale, or distribution of a literary, musical, dramatic, or artistic work”. Copyright is abbreviated as © or (c) (Webopedia, n.d.). A more descriptive definition of copyright will be that “copyright is a type of property that is founded on a person’s creative skill and labour. It is designed to prevent unauthorized use by other of a work, that is, the original form in which an idea or information has been expressed by the creator … It is a bundle of exclusive economic rights to do certain acts with an original work or subject matter. These rights include the right to copy, publish, broadcast and publicly perform the copyright material” (Cope & Mason, 2001).

Visual Copyright Notices

  1. The symbol © (the letter C in a circle), or the word “Copyright” or the abbreviation “Corp.”;
  2. The year of first publication of the work;
  3. The name of the owner of the work or an abbreviation by which the name can be recognized such as: © 2006 John Doe.
  4. Musical works may not contain the © sign but instead the (the letter P in a circle) because they are made up by sounds in an audio recording. Audio recordings such as audio tapes and phonograph disks are “phonorecords” and they will be recognised as: (the letter P in a circle) 2006 A.B.C. Records Inc. (United States Copyright Office, 2006).

What is protected by copyright?

Copyright protects “original works of authorship” that are fixed in a tangible form of expression such as:
  • literary works (poetry or prose)
  • musical works written or recorded (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
  • computer programs
  • artwork
  • animations
  • java Applets
  • a "web page"
  • photographs
  • icons on a website
  • trade marks (either registered or unregistered)

(Holtz-Eakin 2004; Gummess, 2004)

What is not protected by copyright?

Copyright does not protect works that have not been fixed in a tangible form of expression such as:
  • Titles (Mr, Miss, Mrs, Ms)
  • Names
  • short phrases
  • slogans
  • familiar symbols or designs
  • mere variations of typographic ornamentation
  • lettering
  • coloring
  • listings of ingredients or contents
  • ideas
  • standard calendars
  • height
  • weight charts
  • tape measures
  • rulers or;
  • lists or tables taken from public documents or other common sources

(Holtz-Eakin 2004)

The Copyright Act

The Copyright Act grants five rights to a copyright owner:

1. The right to reproduce the copyrighted work.
2. The right to prepare derivative works based upon the original(s).
3. The right to distribute copies of the work.
4. The right to perform the work publicly.
5. The right to display the work publicly
(Gummess, 2004)

The 10 Copyright Myths

  1. “If it doesn't have a copyright notice, it's not copyrighted”.
  2. “If I don't charge for it, it's not a violation”.
  3. “If it's posted to Usenet it's in the public domain”.
  4. “My posting was just fair use!”
  5. “If you don't defend your copyright you lose it”.
  6. “If I make up my own stories, but base them on another work, my new work belongs to me”.
  7. “They can't get me; defendants in court have powerful rights!”
  8. “Oh, so copyright violation isn't a crime or anything?”
  9. “It doesn't hurt anybody -- in fact it's free advertising”.
  10. “They e-mailed me a copy, so I can post it”.
(Templeton, 2004)

International Copyright Protection

There is no such thing as an “international copyright” that will automatically protect an author’s writings throughout the entire world. Protection against unauthorized use in a particular country depends, basically, on the national laws of that country. However, most countries do offer protection to foreign works under certain conditions, and these conditions have been greatly simplified by international copyright treaties and conventions.


“On 28 August 2001, the Australian businessman Joseph Gutnick won the right to sue a U.S. Website operated by Dow Jones (in New Jersey) in the Australian state of Victoria. The decision in the Victorian Supreme Court gives Gutnick the right to sue Dow Jones for alleged online defamation over an article in one of its magazines, Barron’s Online”. (Defamation will be explained later on). In the case of Gutnick it can be observed that the law does not only cover the country from which the work originates but it covers whichever country where the computer is located that accessed the material (Roberts 2001).

Intellectual Property Rights Clearance

In order not to breach an author’s copyrights there is a need to gain the consent of the author before reproducing his or her materials. To get the author’s consent in writing you need to ask permission through a letter.


The letter asking for permission

Original Message

From: Mary Anne Schooling []

Sent: Sunday, August 17, 2003 10:42 PM

To: Requests, Quote

Subject: Permission to use FT-14-4368 in Electronic Reserve Collection

I have been referred to you by Todd Hutchison from Curtin University of Technology, Perth, Western Australia (Advisory Seat: Hutcinsot). I am seeking permission to include the following document in Curtin University's photocopy and electronic Reserve Collections. It will be accessible only to current Curtin staff and students for study/educational purposes. It will be removed from these collections when no longer required for these purposes. The document is: Roberts, John 2001: Online publishers face defamation crisis. Gartner FirstTake 7September 2001 FT-14-4368. Please let me know if you require additional information.

The letter of approval

Original Message

From: Requests, Quote []

Sent: Monday, 18 August 2003 10:24 PM

To: Mary Anne Schooling

Subject: RE: Permission to use FT-14-4368 in Electronic Reserve Collection

Hello Mary Anne,
You have approval to use the requested document for educational purposes only, under our fair use policy.
Lydia Howe

Fair Use


Under the Fair Use Policy copying should be allowed for purposes of criticism, news reporting, teaching and scholarly research. Under the 1976 Copyright Act, Fair Use applies to non-profit use which will have no effect on the potential market of the copyright work (Gummess, 2004).


According to the copyright authority in education Dr. Esther Sinofsky, Fair Use is a contradiction of the basic concept of copyright because it allows “someone other than the author can have certain rights regarding the work... without payment to... the copyright owner” (Gummess, 2004). Bruce A. Lehman, the Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Commissioner of Patents and Trademarks describes Fair Use as an "affirmative defence" against an accusation of copyright infringement (Gummess, 2004).

Challenges for the electronic Industry

The rapid technological progress in information technologies is posing new issues for the copyright law. The Internet allows worldwide access for anyone who wants to copy anything that has been published online. On the one hand, copyright holders of digital works are arguing against the customers’ rights to copy materials for personal use. On the other hand, the customers are arguing against copyright holders' use of digital technologies to prevent or deter copying and other unauthorized uses of copyrighted works (Holtz-Eakin 2004). The digitization of creative content is lowering the cost of copyright infringement by individual consumers. Greater computer processing power and storage capacity, as well as the proliferation of file-sharing on peer-to-peer networks, have facilitated the unauthorized use of creative works. As a consequence, private individuals, rather than commercial entities, are increasingly the targets of copyright-enforcement efforts (Holtz-Eakin, 2004).

Trust and Privacy Issues

The Internet is often regarded as the “new form of media that provides freedom and endless possibility” (M/Cyclopedia of New Media, 2005). Access to the Internet is easy and this invites many towards online publication of either good or bad information, or even inappropriate or misleading content. According to Mathew Ross “the web has become the Wild West of the information age” (Ross n.d.) and is now the “breeding ground for crime and depravity” (Ross n.d.).



Since the early 1990s they have ruled that defamation can occur through email, web pages, broadcasts, bulletin boards, weblogs, chat rooms, news blogs and newsgroups or on any other applications on the global information infrastructure. There are two forms of defamation: 1) Libel (a statement that has either been printed or published online); and 2) Slander (an oral statement that has not been published).

Defamation Law

The defamation laws aim at protecting any individual or business’ reputation with freedom of expression. The laws give the “injured” the right to sue for damages to its reputation from defamatory in the form of malicious comments or false statements (M/Cyclopedia of New Media, 2005; Electronic Frontiers Australia, 2006).

Digital Fraud

A new publishing law called the Digital Fraud was put into place because of the exploitation of images in electronic publishing. Online publishing of images is vulnerable to copyright because of the worldwide Internet users (M/Cyclopedia of New Media, 2005).


Since the late 1990s softwares has been available online for Internet users to rip audio files from CDs and store them. The new digital media product – the MP3- has greatly encouraged illegal consumptions of copyright works with its ability to compress files to be stored on personal computers (Holtz-Eakin 2004).

Peer-to-Peer File Sharing

The late 90s saw an increase in broadband Internet access and the emergence of Peer-to-peer (P2P) networks which allow individual computers to share files on the Internet. As a result, unauthorized copying, storing, and sharing of digital files has become inexpensive and easy for private individuals rather than commercial entities. According to one estimate, an average of 8 million Internet users was online and sharing 10 million gigabytes of data on those networks at any given time during June 2004 (Holtz-Eakin 2004).

Movies and Games

With the increase in software, Internet access, digital compression, transmission and P2P file sharing the number of pirated movies has increased. According to the Motion Picture Association of America, the number of Web sites offering pirated movies increased from 143,000 in 2002 to approximately 200,000 by the end of 2003. In March 2003, video files accounted for 16.4 percent of bytes transmitted over P2P networks, which dramatically increased to 31.9 percent in March 2004.

Challenges faced by copyright holders


  1. Microsoft sued a developer for an online program called FairUse4WM that had been successfully stripping anticopying guards from songs downloaded through subscription media services such as Napster or Yahoo Music. However the software developer denied any of these accusations by Microsoft (Borland, 2006).
  2. UK s’ national library is demanding that the copyright law be updated to control the excesses of digital rights management. According to the library digital rights management is imposing restrictions on the use of copyright works and this makes it difficult to “preserve copies of content, and make them available for research purposes and for disabled people” plus many copyright works are locked up because the owner cannot be contacted (Espiner, 2006).
  3. The music industry sued Lime Wire (the peer-to-peer software company) for copyright infringement because the softwares created are used to copy music and distribute them over the Internet. The recording industry demanded a compensation of $150,000 for punitive damage every song distributed without permission. Other companies that have either gone out of business or altered their business models are Grokster, WinMx and BearShare (Sandoval, 2006).

Economic Effects

Core copyright industries depend on the production or dissemination of copyrighted works for their revenues. However the music industry is suffering a great loss in revenue because of copyright infringement brought about by softwares and file sharing. For instance, the gross revenues of the core copyright industries totalled $441.4 billion in 2002 and almost a third of that total ($143.4 billion) came from the newspaper, periodical, and book publishing industries. However, the music industry generated only $13.9 billion in gross revenues in 2002 and is the smallest segment as is seen in the diagram below (Holtz-Eakin 2004).


Limitation to copyright Holders

1) First, copyright is granted for only a limited time.
a) On works of individual authorship, copyright extends for the life of the author plus 70 years.
b) On works for hire, copyright runs for 95 years from first publication or 120 years from creation, whichever expires first.
c) After copyright protection has ended, the work enters the public domain and may be used without authorization of the copyright owner.

2) Copyright law also imposes limitations on the exclusive rights that copyright owners enjoy during the life of a copyright.
a) Some of those limitations apply to the use of a particular product, such as consumers' ability to make an archival copy of a computer program without authorization of the copyright owner.
b) The first sale doctrine stipulates that the owner of a legally obtained copy of a copyrighted work may “sell or otherwise dispose of the possession of that copy” without the authorization of the copyright owner. Thus, this doctrine concerns rights to distribute-not to reproduce-copyrighted material (Holtz-Eakin, 2004).

Consequences for copyright infringement

Copying and/ or distributing copyright work without the permission of the owner even if for fair use has its consequences. It could be either a fine or a prison sentence.

Watch this movie and learn more about copyright consequences

The Recording Industry Association of America made a seven-minute movie which will be distributed to over 350 universities. The video attempts to explain copyright law and some of the other hazards with downloading music from the Web, such as being sued or arrested (Sandoval, 2006).

Downloaded the video at

Who May File an Application Form?

  1. The author. (This is either the person who actually created the work or, if the work was made for hire, the employer or other person for whom the work was prepared).
  2. The copyright claimant. (The copyright claimant is defined in Copyright Office regulations as either the author of the work or a person or organization that has obtained ownership of all the rights under the copyright initially belonging to the author. This category includes a person or organization who has obtained by contract the right to claim legal title to the copyright in an application for copyright registration)
  3. .The owner of exclusive right(s). (Under the law, any of the exclusive rights that make up a copyright and any subdivision of them can be transferred and owned separately, even though the transfer may be limited in time or place of effect).
  4. The duly authorized agent of such author, other copyright claimant, or owner of exclusive right(s). (Any person authorized to act on behalf of the author, other copyright claimant, or owner of exclusive rights may apply for registration).
  5. There is no requirement that applications be prepared or filed by an attorney.

Registration Procedures

The registration procedures includes
    • A properly completed application form.
    • A non-refundable filing fee for each application.
    • A deposit requirement. (This varies in particular situations).

There are different types of forms:

Some examples are forms for performing arts (PA), serials (SE), sound recordings (SR), literary works (TX), visual arts (VA), complete month's issues of a daily newspaper (G/DN) etc…
For more information about the different type of forms co to the Copyright website

Additional Information

For more information about Intellectual Property & Publishing-Copyright, Privacy Trust and Defamation - check out the FAQs at and at

The Copyright Website also provides some useful information about Intellectual Property and it contains some good examples of legal cases from copyright infringements.

List of References