TITLE: The Copyright Website

ACCESS: http://www.benedict.com

With his tongue planted in his virtual cheek, the author of The Copyright Website describes his award winning web resource as an endeavor "to provide real world, practical and relevant copyright information of interest to infonauts, netsurfers, webspinners, content providers, musicians, appropriationists, activists, infringers, outlaws, and law abiding citizens."

Launched in 1995 by copyright and trademark attorney Benedict O'Mahoney, The Copyright Website was created to "encourage discourse and invite solutions" on a wide range of issues related to copyright law in the digital environment. The site employs a unique presentation style to invigorate and illuminate this discussion. Utilizing an effective blend of text, graphics and multimedia elements, the site succeeds in engaging users regardless of their level of expertise or familiarity with copyright law. The content is organized into six main categories that include a discussion of the fundamentals of copyright law, the application of fair use and public domain, the distribution of copyrighted materials across the Internet, an examination of notable copyright infringements, copyright in the news, and an online copyright discussion area. Other issues of importance to librarians and educators are addressed within these major categories. These topics include the protection of content and design of web pages, software ownership issues, implied and actual license, and copyright as applied to electronic newsgroups and listservs. The site also helps visitors stay informed on copyright legislation in the news and provides links to a select set of related resources for additional information.

Useful as a primer on issues of copyright, The Copyright Website covers a broad range of issues but does not seek to offer a comprehensive examination of any single topic. It does, however, offer a sufficient and concise narrative coupled with an engaging audio/visual presentation. The site is particularly effective in its use of graphics and audio to provide detailed analysis and demonstration of recent infringement litigation. Highly graphical, easy to navigate and presented with a sense of humor, this site would be very useful as a resource for online presentations. Many examples are drawn from litigation within the news and entertainment industries and will appeal to a wide audience.

Unfortunately, the site is not particularly well suited to quick or ready reference use. The major organizational elements are broad and the website is not indexed or searchable. The online discussion threads are searchable, but as one might expect, users of this electronic forum pose far more questions than they answer.

With a sense of humor and effective use of the medium, The Copyright Website succeeds in providing authoritative, useful information on copyright law, particularly as it applies to information in digital form.

Mark A. Smith
Information Systems Librarian
Scholes Library
NYS College of Ceramics at Alfred University
fsmithm@bigvax.alfred.edu


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