Internet & Software Copyright
Published October 2000

It is a common fallacy that information and graphics displayed on the internet are not covered by copyright. This is not correct. The fact that you can right-click on an image and download it onto your computer does not mean that you will not be breaching the artist’s or owner’s copyright if you do so. As a general rule copyright applies to content, graphics, backgrounds, and design, displayed on web sites as it would if the information was displayed in a paper brochure or in a newspaper.

If you see a wonderful graphic on the web and would like to display it, either on your computer, or use it on a newsletter, or in some other form, then email the artist, or webmaster and verify that the image does belong to them and request permission to use the graphic, specifying what you want to use it for. In my experience all my requests to use the images I’ve found on the internet for non profit making purposes have been granted by the artists concerned.

Similarly copyright applies to software (the programs that run on your computer). If you use software which is unregistered or pirated you are breaking the law. There are a range of programs available called Freeware which you are allowed to use free of charge as well as a range of Shareware programs which require a nominal registration fee to assist the developers with production costs.

Freeware is often a cut down version of a more advanced commercial software, such as the mail client (email program) Eudora Light released as a promotion, either to encourage brand awareness, or to allow people to test the structure and concept of a new program. Others like the email client Pegasus Version 4.31 for Windows 5912kb are released in their entirety free for personal and private use only. There are a vast range of freeware programs around and prior to running one on your system, always, always, run an up-to-date virus scan over it. I tend to stick to using freeware released by the large corporates to ensure I’m not picking up a malicious program. I also run a search on the Internet using the name of the freeware just to check that no one has had had unforeseen problems with it. The Internet is very good at self regulation and if people have had problems with software they tend to discuss them openly on the net.

Shareware is usually written by small groups or individuals who’ve had a good idea and want to share it. It is rarely done as a profit making venture and costs are shared with the users - hence the name.

There are a lot of very good free and cheap shareware programs available addressing most tasks that you’d need your computer to perform. Don’t think if it is not expensive it is not good but do check around the internet and see how others who have used the program before you have fared.

This page last updated on 15/01/2007 13:02

© Glynne MacLean 1999-2003

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