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Legal Side of the Web, Part 1- Website Legal Issues and Copyright Infringement


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Today, the Internet and the World Wide Web have literally changed our lives. Information is accessible at the click of the mouse.

The growing popularity of the web has at length led to a chain of events. The World Wide Web offers easy and fast access to the information from various corners of the world. Yet, this powerful medium is not free from the shackles of crime. To mention one, plagiarism is no longer confined within stringent walls of the past.

The recent hue and cry surrounding “ Net Neutrality” has further triggered the need for hassle free access to worldwide information. Free flow of information has greatly benefited us, but it has also augmented the growth of cyber crimes in the web world.

To name a few, cyber stalking, counterfeiting of currency, hacking, counterfeiting of trademark, child exploitation, copyright infringement are some cyber crimes that are on high-rise. An IC3 report states that in 2007, Internet crimes have soared high with 206,884 complaints resulting in $240 million in loses compared to $198 million in 2006.

In order to redress this ongoing malady, the Internet Law & Policy Forum (ILPF) has been founded in 1995 by leading Internet providers like AOL, Visa, Netscape, British Telecom and Fujitsu. This organization aims towards development of the Internet and also develops suitable solutions for the rising challenges pertaining to law, business, technology and policy in the Internet arena. Various other efforts have been undertaken to check this on rising woe; for instance, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in the United States of America is a commendable step to check this problem.

Some legal issues of the web world

Lately, Yahoo has been attacked of failing to redress the click fraud problem. However, it is important to note that in 2006, Yahoo took concern to redress the problem and had compensated by giving $17,000 to Bigreds.com. Following the turn of events over the years, the company has decided to charge $ 1 million from Yahoo to compensate for is its damages.

In 2006, the search engine giant Google also faced a similar lawsuit and paid an amount of $90 million. Last year, Privacy International condemned Google over privacy practices. Again, Microsoft accused Google of committing copyright infringement. To mention, Viacom, the US media group, appealed to remove 100,000 clips of copyright material from Google’s You Tube. Also, the Authors Guild and a group of publishers of America have sued Google for illegal production of digital copies of copyrighted books.

Primary website legal issues

In order to sail smoothly in this competitive web market, the websites need to follow certain cardinal rules. Not only the newly built websites but also the existing ones must keep off guard to avoid from treading illegal paths.

Issues concerning copyright, domain name, trademark, framing, linking and defamation are certain mandatory things, which should be considered in all times.


According to copyrights law, a party is liable of copyright infringement when it illegally reproduces, displays or distributes the work or services without prior permission of the copyright owners. Like print, audio and other audiovisual mediums, the web is also subject to the laws of copyright. Any type of copyright violation will eventually lead to a fatal end.

Copyright infringement:

Use of Image: Graphics powerfully convey message to the web visitor. Today, graphics are used extensively in websites in order to allure the web visitor. However, it is essential that certain rules must be considered while using graphics in websites.

  • Original images of the website must be used. However, sometimes created images based on another work may lead to copyright infringement. So, it is advisable, to create unique images.
  • Unauthorized copying of images from other websites without prior permission of the copyright owner leads to copyright infringement. Yet, it is not copyright violation provided the copied material is favorable towards finding a ‘fair use’.
  • Images are available free for use in the Internet. It is essential to follow the terms and conditions laid down by the authorized creator of the images. It is important to give credit to the source author and provide a link to the authorized site. However, it is important to note that the copied images are not the original creations of the concerned author. This may lead to copyright infringement.
  • Another category of images consists of licensed images. Herein, the copier has to accept the terms and conditions of a license issued by the concerned copyright owner with regard to the use of images. Sometimes, according to the terms and conditions of the license, the copier cannot alter the images and use them as links to other sites.
  • There are also clip art files, which are offered along with software. The use of images from these clip art files does not violate the laws of copyright. Yet, it is essential to act according to the license agreement.

The copyright laws are not restricted to the use of images only. Unique and fresh contents have an arresting power to garn in more traffic. Therefore, in order to ensure healthy presence in the cyber world, it is essential to follow certain guidelines. These guidelines will be discussed in the next part.

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