Friday, November 30, 2007

Copyright in the Digital Age

Excerpt from Chapter 4 of Copyright Companion for Writers by Tonya M. Evans-Walls titled "Copyright in the Digital Age" To order visit: or your favorite bookseller.

Copyright 2007 Tonya M. Evans-Walls (). Limited license granted to copy and distribute this post provided such copying and distributing is of the entire post, including author's copyright and contact information. All other rights reserved.

DISCLAIMER: The author is not engaged in rendering legal or other professional services as a result of the information contained in this article, nor is this article meant to constitute legal or other professional advice. If legal or other professional assistance is required, the services of an attorney should be sought to discuss your individual needs since all legal issues are fact-specific.

In chapters 2 and 3 [of Copyright Companion for Writers], I covered the basics of how copyright comes into existence, what a copyright owner has the right to do, and why and how to register your copyright. This chapter explores both the benefits and the challenges of digital technology as it relates to copyright formation and protection.

There is no doubt that new technology has had a substantial impact on the trade publishing industry. The changes brought about by technology are exciting and inspiring, but also troubling and challenging. A whole new world—the World Wide Web—offers unprecedented access to information, peers, and consumers. Continual accessibility to information and cut-and-paste technology have led to protection problems and widespread "sharing" and "use," which in turn have led to widespread infringement of perfect digital copies.

This phenomenon has led to a generational shift in the appreciation of copyright and infringement, and a fundamental misperception that "if it's accessible on the Internet, it's free." And it's not just a sense that information on the Web is free: people who have that belief also believe they are somehow entitled to use the information. So as advances in technology challenge the effectiveness of existing copyright laws, the balance between an author's rights to control work and the public's right to benefit from creativity becomes more tenuous.

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