The CopyRite SiteTM supporting copyrights on the net
supporting free speech on the net
This page and its local links are maintained by and © Todd VerBeek, who is solely responsible for them.

The Idea

The "CopyRite Site"TM concept is based on the principle that the people who create things ought to have the right to control what's done with them. At heart, it's that simple.

The internet is a wonderful medium for the free expression of ideas, and must remain so. My belief in that principle is why this site bears the "Blue Ribbon" logo. But just because ideas should be expressed freely doesn't mean they should be taken freely. And anybody who goes around taking other creations and using them without permission is really just showing that they're either too lazy or too dull to produce their own stuff.

Please note that the correct spelling of the term is "copyright", not "copywrite" or my deliberately misspelled trademark "CopyRite Site". It means: "the right to copy".

By displaying the "CopyRite Site"TM logo, a WWW author agrees to the following:
- To use only material that they've created themselves, that they've received permission from the creator to use, or that is in the public domain. (Excerpts from a larger work for review, commentary, satire, or other uses permitted by international copyright law are permitted.) This includes graphics, text, sounds, animation, scripts, and anything else that somebody had to create.
- To create and run their site using only software they've written themselves, for which someone has paid the creator's license fee (if any), or which are in the public domain.

To include the "CopyRite Site"TM logo in your pages, you can save the logo file on your Web server and include the following code in your HTML document:

<a href="">
<img src="copyrite.gif" border=0 alt="supporting copyrights on the net"></a>

The Facts

I'm not a lawyer, but I've absorbed quite a bit about copyright law over the years. Here are a few quick facts (slightly over-simplified, but generally correct) to keep in mind:
- If it's been created, it's copyrighted. There's no need for the creator to put a copyright notice on it, or even to publish it. Something is in the public domain only if the creator makes a specific declaration that it is (or has been dead for a long time).
- It doesn't matter whether money changes hands. The word means exactly what it says: the right to make copies. Using an unauthorised copy of something even for the most noble non-profit purposes is still a violation of copyright. (If you think the creator wouldn't mind... why not ask?)
- You can copy part of a work to review it. The "Fair Use" principle of copyright law permits you to copy an excerpt of a larger work in order to comment about it. (Parody falls under this.) The smaller the work, the less you can legally copy. See my comics reviews as one example.
- You can't copyright a short phrase, not even the name of a product. You can trademark a short phrase, but you can't copyright "Holiday Inn" (preventing others from using the phrase in their writings). Trademarks are a different beast from copyrights, and pertain directly to commercial use of a phrase or name.

The following resources will tell you more about copyrights, trademarks, patents, and other forms of intellectual property.

- Copyright Myths is a list of Frequently Asked Questions about copyright and how it applies to the internet.

- The Copyright Website goes into this issue in a lot more detail and with a lot more authority than I can.

- FindLaw's Copyright index.

- Nolo Press' Law Encyclopedia.

- The Copyright FAQ is a little out of date, but otherwise an excellent reference with answers of Frequently Asked Questions.

- The newsgroup is the ideal place for discussion about intellectual property on the internet.

- In the United States, the Library of Congress is the authoritative source for information about copyright law, and how to register your creation.

For the scoop on trademarks, see the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's "Basic Facts About Registering A Trademark" pages.

For the scoop on patents, see the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's "General Information About Patents" pages.

The Reason

You may be wondering why I came up with this. Am I some kind of fascist, cop, intellectual property lawyer, or some other "scum of the earth"? Nope. I'm just a guy who respects others' work.

Once upon a time, I used to make cassette copies of my friends' records, duplicated movie videos I rented, used shareware and other commercial programs without paying for them, etc. I'm no saint. But as I've begun to get more involved in the creative end of things, I've gotten a sense of what it's like to have others taking your work without credit, without compensation, and without permission. I "got religion". And stopped doing it.

Over the years, I've dabbled in art, writing, publishing, programming, etc. I know what goes into each of these activities, and I've seen friends, colleagues, and people I respect lose out on both income and dignity because people stole/pirated/ripped off their creations. And it sucks.

So as a gesture of respect for the creative process, and to promote more widespread respect for the rights of creators, I created the "CopyRite Site"TM concept. I won't make a penny from it. I don't care about the credit. I'm practically giving it away, holding onto the moral right to it only to make sure it's not perverted somehow by someone else. Granting widespread licence to use the logo and name is my choice... and that's the whole point behind it.

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