TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
Electronic copyright issues are certainly a hot topic these days (as well
as other electronic legal issues, such as privacy). Much of the
discussion is among potential commercial providers of information who fear
the Internet or similar networks of the future because of the ease in
which electronic files can be redistributed.
I'm certainly not an expert on the issue (and I'm *definitely* not a
lawyer), but I've been following the issue in preparation for a conference
presentation this fall. I think I'm on safe ground to say that electronic
documents meet the most basic of copyright requirements: that the work
must be original and fixed in a tangible medium of expression.
Where things get tricky is in dealing with issues such as fair use,
licensing, distribution rights, and compilations.
For those who are interested in an in-depth discussion of copyright issues,
I suggest subscribing to the CNI-COPYRIGHT listserv. (Send an e-mail
message to listserv -at- cni -dot- org, no subject line, text: subscribe
CNI-COPYRIGHT Your Name. There are also two Usenet newsgroups that
discuss these issues: misc.legal.computing and misc.int-property. Finally, an
extremely helpful copyright FAQ has been prepared by Terry Carroll, which
I've posted in our anonymous FTP host (ftp.nwnet.net:
mike -at- nwnet -dot- net
On Mon, 9 Aug 1993, Faith Weber wrote:
> I like that theory. What I've heard, though, is that it's hard to
> prove copyright, etc. of anything that's not printed on paper. I don't
> know whether that means if you have it on paper *and* electronic form,
> you're ok. The sense I get from the trade rags is they haven't quite
> figured out what to do with all this electronic material yet in terms
> of copyrights, privacy rights, and a whole bunch of other legal issues.
> Any comm law types out there? Mike, do you fall into that category?
> It would be interesting to know more about this.
> Faith Weber
> weber -at- easi -dot- enet -dot- dec -dot- com