and the Public Domain
Both the Constitution
and federal law only guarantees a copyright "for limited
times." The 1976 Copyright Act gives individual authors
a copyright for the "life of the author" plus 70
years.  Once a copyright has expired,
it effectively enters the "public domain," where
it can be altered and used by others without requiring payment
The Internet and the World
Wide Web offer opporunities for the free exchange of information.
There are few fences in cyberspace and few "no trespass"
signs that protect intellectual property in the same way that
real property is protected. Nevertheless, "intellectual
property" on the Internet and the World Wide Web is entitled
to copyright protection.
Caveat: The Internet Is Not the Public Domain
Just because "works
of art" are freely available on the Internet and just because
some of these works are not accompanied by copyright symbols,
the Internet is not equivalent to the public domain.As a rule
of thumb, it is better to assume that all forms of expression
on the Internet are copyrighted unless they are clearly and
obviously known to be within the "public domain."
forms of expression may be copyrighted, not methods, layouts,
ideas or concepts.
A "fair use"
of a copyrighted work does not constitute infringement,
even if such use would generally
interfere with the author's
rights to control distribution, reproduction, and the
creation of derivative works
Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. §§ 17 U.S.C.
and New Technologies. Available at <<http://www.educationworld.com/a_curr/curr280c.shtml>>
Last accessed, November 25, 2002