In today’s world, we have millions of people who own computers. What has emerged from this collective ownership of computers is a community, if you will, of computers which spans the entire globe through electronic connections. This commune of computers has become known as the Internet. On the Internet, there is contained immense quantities of knowledge. People ‘post’ items on the Internet, and in their own way, they contribute to the collective of knowledge available to basically anyone with a computer and a phone.
Placing something on the Internet is just like broadcasting something over the television waves. In the case of television, someone with a VCR could, if they wanted to, tape an NBA game, so that they may watch it later. However, at the beginning and end of each NBA game, it is stated that basically it is illegal to reproduce or rebroadcast the game without the expressed written consent of the NBA. Unfortunately for them, once they broadcast the game, there are people who tape it regardless of the copyright, therefore breaking copyright law. In the same manner, when someone posts something on the Internet, they can put all the copyrights and warnings that they want on it, but inevitably, it will be copied and used somewhere else without the “owner’s” permission.
Copyright laws are very good ideas to have so as to protect the rightful owner of a particular image or idea. Unfortunately, in most cases, copyright laws are so difficult to enforce, that they may as well be nonexistent. Software copyrights are violated left and right, and most people are unaware that they are even breaking the law by copying a friend’s program to their computer. It is the same with Internet copyrights. People copy images all the time, and later use them on their site. While it may be legal only for non-profit organizations or those with the owner’s permission, many, many people participate in this activity on a regular basis. In practice, most copyright laws, on the Internet and elsewhere, are simply enforced in such a manner that if you’re not making any money off the reproduction of an item, then you are okay.
On the Internet, when you post an item, you in essence say that anyone may take the image and do what they want with it. This is not the way it should be. If there was a way to enforce a law which prevented people from copying images without authorization, it would certainly be instituted, at least by the major companies with Web sites, such as Microsoft© and Intel©. Possibly the only way to enforce such a law would be to have some sort of program which detected when someone was copying off your server, and then would prompt them for a password. If they supplied the incorrect password, it would then scramble anything they tried to copy. Although this sounds like a good idea, it is highly infeasible. If it were possible to do such a thing in the first place, one would most likely need to have some sort of special server that would function in this manner, therefore making the idea ludicrously expensive.
Taking all of this information into account, it can be determined that although Internet copyright laws may be good ideas, Internet copyright practices would not change with or without a law, as people generally do what they want to as long as they think they can’t get caught, and in the case of copying things off the Internet, it would be a rare occurrence that one would get caught.
The views expressed in this essay are not necessarily those of the author.
Contents of this essay copyright 1997 tHE bRAIN© technology.
To be used only with permission.