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The Internet - Fair Use And Unfair Competition

company copyright photograph song

Copyright was designed as incentive for authors to create new works from which to profit. Fair use is a provision of copyright law that allows a limited amount of copying for educational purposes, so long as that use does not diminish the market value of the work for the creator, or allow the second party to profit from someone else's work. Photographers and song writers have found a technology allowing "digital watermarks" so their work displayed in cyberspace can be identified and protected from unlawful use. When someone downloads a digitally marked photograph, for example, he can click on the copyright symbol and be connected to the company holding copyright information. The company can check on illegal use of the photograph by sending web crawlers to search the web for the imbedded mark and report the location of photos to the company with a database of legal users of the photograph.

Audio watermarks are even more remarkable. They remain intact even when the sound is transformed from digital to analog for radio broadcast, so that monitoring equipment hears the mark and reports the artist and song back to the company.

When The New York Times entered a contractual arrangement with Barnes & Noble to link book reviews in the online newspaper to the online bookstore source, 26 independent bookstores and the American Booksellers Association protested the partnership as an unfair business practice and filed suit claiming the deal put them at a competitive disadvantage and posed a threat to their survival. But, Advertising Age editors say such arrangements are a proper use of the new technology, and that critics are engaging in "a misguided effort to apply rigid, print-driven rules to fluid cyberspace." The use of the links serves the readers.

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