Copyright law and licensing on the Internet

Doghouse – Copyright and Licensing

Article from Issue 227/2019
Author(s):

Despite the common assumption, everything online is not in the public domain.

"But, but, but … I found it on the Internet!" Many people today think that just because the image or text is found on the Internet that it is free to be used or copied, as if the copied item were in the "public domain."

Of course, copyright law (and licensing) is determined by the laws of particular countries. What is law in one country may not apply in another country, but in many cases copyright laws are shared between countries via international agreements. As a rule of thumb, I tend to adhere to the strictest set of laws to protect myself, and the strictest set of laws tends to be from the United States.

The United States is so focused on copyright (and patent) law that they built the beginnings of these laws into their Constitution – the same document that supposedly guarantees the freedoms of US citizens also guarantees the existence of copyrights and patents and sets up a copyright and patent office much sooner in the document than the part guaranteeing freedom of speech.

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