Copyright protection, URL's and web comics
Submitted by kdreger on March 18, 2003 - 19:39
A recent article in Econtent covers the case of a Dilbert fan who created an unofficial Dilbert webpage using official Dilbert strips.
"Wallach, an avid fan of the Dilbert comic strips, found the layout of United Media's Official Dilbert Web site 'really lame'. And so, taking it upon himself to offer the world a better layout, he linkedâ€”the better to skirt the copyright issueâ€”directly to United Media's Web server. He called his creation The Dilbert Hack Page.
"'It didn't take long for UM's lawyers to come knocking. 'Thank you for your enthusiasm,' they wrote. "However, this material is copyrighted by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.'"
"'I very carefully designed my Web page to avoid copyright problems,' Wallach wrote back. 'If you examine the HTML for my page, you will see it pulls images from the United Media server. I do not store any United Feature Syndicate intellectual property on my server. At the current time, copyright protection does not extend to URLs. Thus, I believe I am within my rights to present my Web page in its current form. Technically, I present a directory of pointers in much the same way as Yahoo!, Lycos, or AltaVista. The legality of my page is directly related to the legality of search engines in general, and any legal action against me would set an important precedent for intellectual property on the Web.'
"UM's reply: 'If it turns out you are wrong, it will cost you a lot of money.'
"At that point, Wallach called a lawyer. "