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Subject:Re: Web Legal Issues From:Bill Swallow/commsoft <wswallow -at- COMMSOFT -dot- NET> Date:Thu, 7 Jan 1999 16:00:19 -0500
The above is an example of a big problem with the Web. If you look at any
of the hundreds of books written about the Web, the idea of looking at the
HTML to see how others did something, and then using the same structure and
ideas is stressed quite a bit. In fact, many books encourage the reader to
use existing code.
Actually, many do not. Many illustrate how to view source code and use it
toward learning how it was done.
Most books advise that if you visit a page and you like the styles and
look, simply look at the code and duplicate it. It is encouraged and well
Encouraged and well-accepted? Are you kidding? There are thousands of Web
authors out there that would be sitting on the front porch of their
creations with a loaded shotgun just waiting for a thief to walk up! This
'like it, grab it' idea was brought up in an online article last year; I
feel sorry for the poor author. Within 1 hour of its posting, over 200 Web
authors had e-mailed their 'how dare you's to the author and to the owner
of the site. The article was taken down later that day and re-written, and
an apology was made public to the community.
If I visit a page, there is nothing that can prevent me from using the same
styles, colors, tables, frames and other parts that you use; excluding
legitimately copyrighted materials, naturally. I can duplicate the look of
your page EXACTLY, and there is not a blessed thing you can do about it.
Legally, no. Otherwise, beware... ;-)
HTML is virtually the same thing as reveal and formatting codes used in
Word Processors. It is a language to describe how things look and behave on
a page and that is NOT something you can copyright.
Actually a series of commands in HTML 4 is considered to be a script and
scripts are subject to copyright.
As far as copyrights on links, word lists, etc., it is not possible. Here
again, I can use the same list of keywords you might use and I can put the
same exact list of links on my page and there is nothing you can do. When
someone puts up a web page, they must follow traditions. They must
understand what is and is not allowed. Because the web evolved as it has
evolved, there are certain things that are generally accepted. The fact
that someone does not like it means nothing.
Yup. And let us not remember that all these evil devices that allow us to
view source and copy source and download images and so forth all exist
because the Web was designed as a medium to exchange information and ideas