Internet Copyright Laws Explained

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Do Internet Copyright Laws Exist?

Once you start learning how copyright works, you'll figure out that pretty much any work of authorship is copyrighted by default.

You'll also learn that, to prevent copyright infringement, you have to level up that default copyright protection and register your work with the U.S. Copyright Office.

The U.S. system allows you to copyright books, songs, images, but how do copyright laws apply to internet-based content?

What Is Protected By Copyright on the Internet?

The copyright laws, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) primarily, regulate intellectual property ownership on the internet following the pattern applicable to more conventional media.

The moment you create something and put it in a tangible form, even if it's online, the content gets DMCA protection, which means that the law recognizes you as the owner.

This copyright protection lasts during your lifetime and an additional 70 years. It states that you:

  1. Are the only one who owns your work
  2. Can replicate your content, upload it to a website, email it, and distribute the copies as you wish
  3. Are allowed to create derivative content
  4. Can license others to do any of the above

The rules are the same as with traditional copyright. If you don't grant a license to someone, using your work would imply they are infringing on your copyright.

As for the content, you cannot copyright ideas, but you can copyright the expression of an idea. As long as your work is original and you post it online, it has automatic protection. For example, both a hardcover book and an e-book can be protected by copyright.

You should also note that everything on the webpage can be copyright protected, including links, audio, video, visuals, overall design, and any original text.

Why Do People Think That the Law of Copyright Does not Apply to the Internet?

There is a general misconception that if there is no copyright notice on a website, the content is free for use. There is also a notion that if the content doesn't have a copyright certificate, it can be used, copied, or posted without any penalties for infringement.

Both the copyright notice and the copyright certificate are additional copyright protection methods, and some of their perks are listed in the table below:

Copyright NoticeCopyright Certificate
  • Can be added to websites
  • Usually in the form of © (date) by (name of the author)
  • Serves to deter potential thieves
  • Proof of registration with the U.S. Copyright Office
  • Creates a public record of your ownership over the content
  • Makes you eligible to send demand letters to anyone for copyright infringement, get statutory damages, and costs of litigation

Neither of these features is mandatory, and if the author decides no to use them, that doesn't give the public the right to use the content freely.

Fair Use and Copyright Laws—Using Information Found on the Internet

If the DMCA fair use rules didn’t exist, there would be no commentary videos, news, or educational content available online.

Fair use allows creators to use some of the copyrighted work without getting permission from the author.

What exactly someone can use, what portion of the content, and to what purpose is debatable. The rules exist, but if someone claims fair use in court, the decisions seem to be made on a case-by-case basis.

There are four factors to evaluate when invoking fair use:

  • The nature of the original work
  • The purpose of using that content
  • The amount and substantiality of the part taken
  • The effect of the use

How To Handle Copyright Infringement

Once you place your content online, there is a fair chance someone will take advantage of that.

While registering for a copyright certificate and placing a copyright notice can help keep some content thieves at bay, what can you do when someone does steal your content?

The most effective tool to report copyright infringement is a DMCA takedown notice, a document you can email to the Internet Service Provider behind the website where you found your content.

By using this copyright infringement notice, you can get the stolen content taken down without having a dispute with the infringers.

Some fundamental components that you should include in a takedown notice are:

  1. Attention-grabbing subject line—Try to include words like Copyright or Copyright Infringement to get ISP's attention
  2. Description of what was stolen—Add a section about the content that was stolen. You can include the title, type of content, when was it posted, whether you're the only copyright owner
  3. Proof of ownership—Attach a copyright certificate if you have one
  4. Link to your website—Provide a link to wherever you have originally posted the content
  5. Links to the pages with the stolen content—Paste all links that lead to pages containing your content published without permission
  6. A good-faith statement—You have to state that you believe you did not approve the use of your content on the infringing website
  7. An accuracy statement under the penalty of perjury—It's important to confirm that everything you included in your DMCA notice is true
  8. Contact details—Make sure to provide your name, email, and phone number to enable the ISP to reach you
  9. An electronic signature—You should sign your full name

Why Should You File a DMCA Notice With DoNotPay?

The potential problem with sending a takedown notice is that ISPs require these documents to have a specific form and include all previously mentioned sections and statements. Failing to comply can result in your takedown notice being disregarded.

A lawyer might do the job professionally, but it will cost you, and it will take time.

DoNotPay creates a professional DMCA takedown notice for you in no time.

Our app is the first virtual lawyer in the world. We specialize in taking over complex multiple-step procedures and turning them into simple tasks you can finish with a few clicks:

  1. Open DoNotPay in your
  2. Tap DMCA Takedown
  3. Give us the info about your content
  4. Paste the links to the website where you posted the content originally and to the one violating your copyright

After your click on Sign and Submit, our app will generate a DMCA takedown notice and send it to the appropriate ISP.

How Else Can DoNotPay Keep Your Content Safe?

Since you're researching how to copyright your work and avoid copyright infringement, you're in the right place—DoNotPay can provide you with any relevant info on this topic.

Are you navigating the YouTube copyright system and trying to get rid of a copyright claim? We can show you how to file DMCA counter-notice and avoid DMCA abuse that is so common on YouTube.

DoNotPay can explain the difference between a trademark and copyright, let you know how much registering copyright costs, or elucidate the basics of international copyright law.

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