Section 8, Article I of
the United States Constitution Provides that "Congress
shall have the power . . . To promote the Progress of Science
and Useful Arts, by securing for limited times to the Authors
. . . the exclusive right to their respective writings and
discoveries." Such an "exclusive right" gives
to authors the financial incentive to invest the substantial
time and resources necessary to create an original work
of art. This "exclusive right" also gives authors
some control over the future use or abuse of their "art"
once it is released into the often agressive, critical,
and hectic marketplace of ideas.
Pursuant to this provision
and the Copyright Act of 1976, individuals are guaranteed
certain intellectual property rights. 
Indeed, the use of the term "intellectual property"
aptly describes the purpose of such legislation. Just as
property law protects the fruits of our labor, such as our
homes and posessions, from defacement, theft, or abuse,
so too does intellectual property law protect the fruits
of our mind, such as our writings or paintings, from censorship,
appropriation, or misuse.
It is not easy, however,
to determine how existing copyright law should be applied
to Internet-based communications.
This primer, then, introduces some key concepts as they
may be applied to the Internet.
- Review of the legal
requirements necessary to obtain a copyright.
of the Copyright Holder:
- The scope of legal
protection afforded to copyright owners, particularly
when those owners exhibit work and distribute expressive
works on the World Wide Web.
- Limitations on the
scope of copyright protections, particularly as these
limitations may pertain to the use and development of
expressive works published online
See Bruce P. Keller, Internet and Online Law: Copyright,
in Fourth Annual Internet Law Institution, Practicing Law
Institute, Vol. 1, 169, 175 (2001).