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Cohabiting with copyright on the nets

Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Publication Date
  • Electronic Texts
  • Copyright
  • Political Science


Although the primary purpose of both copyright and the nets is to expand the publicly available knowledge base, the way each goes about expanding the knowledge base can be quite different. To avoid potential conflicts, net users must understand common misconceptions about what constitutes work in the public domain and what uses are permitted (copyright does not necessarily permit users to do the same things with electronic works as nonelectronic works). Determining if the work is in the public domain, what exactly the copyright holder has given permission to do, and how and from whom to ask permission will reduce copyright conflicts. In addition, understanding that the law is a political compromise between various points of view, that it is complex and often can only be interpreted by experts, and that it is only a starting point for discussion between users and copyright holders will improve both equitable access for users and equitable compensation for copyright holders.

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