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The Seven Deadly Myths of Online Copyrights
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By Judith Kallos

Possunt quia posse videntur: They can because they think they can.

One of the most misunderstood issues online involves e-mail and Web site copyright. As with many things online, there is an incorrect perception that anything goes. Many, however, are finding out the hard way that copyright is law--and that these laws are being enforced online.

No, I am not an attorney, nor do I play one on T.V. But I can help you avoid potential problems based on guiding clients for over a decade. Hopefully, this effort will help others from finding out the hard way that copyright is alive and well online.

Here are the seven myths:

“I can right click, save anything online and use it how I wish.” Just because you can doesn't mean you do! Without specific permission to use a file or graphic you have no right to use it as you please. Always ask a site owner before you swipe anything off their site.

“As long as I note the author’s name, I can use their site’s content on my site.” Although you are being nice and giving credit where credit is due, you still need to ask the author’s permission to post their work on your site. The author may not want their information posted anywhere off their own site or may not want it on yours. That is their choice. Always ask a site owner if you can use their content before you put it on your site.

“I can link to graphics on other sites so that they display on my site.” O.K., maybe you didn't actually download the graphic and put it on your server. But if you display someone else’s work on your site without their permission, it's the same thing. In addition, you are using their server’s resources to display something on your site. Shame on you!

“I can display pages from other Web sites within frames on my site.” Many content owners prohibit their site pages from being framed within another site. One reason is that it makes the impression that the displaying site created the content. Folks innocently do this so they don’t send site visitors off their site. Others do so to precisely give the impression it is content they created. The better option is to link to information and create a new window to ensure your site is still available to visitors.

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Judith Kallos is the principal of The IStudio.
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