Definitions:

BANDWIDTH THEFT - Websites are generated over the internet in bytes of information called bandwidth. As each file loads, bytes of information are transmitted from the server (or host) of the website to the web browser of a user computer.  Many sites are monitored by their hosts for the amount of bandwidth they use on a monthly basis and limit this bandwidth use.  Excess bandwidth use may result in additional charges to the website owner

To link directly to a file on one site for purposes of displaying or playing a file on another site constitutes bandwidth theft because the site doing the direct linking is causing the file to load without the permission of the originating site owner/host.

Use of an image (.jpg .gif .bmp) file or a midi (.mid) by "hotlinking" (direct linking) to a file that is not on your own directory/host's server constitutes bandwidth theft. This includes linking to a file for use in guestbooks, websites, or as "avatars" in chat rooms.




BERNE CONVENTION - Originally held in Switzerland in 1886, it was convened to establish an international copyright treaty and define international elements of copyright protection.

The United States became a member in 1989 joining most of Western Europe, Canada, Mexico, Japan, and Australia.

It established a "principle of national treatment" granting broad international copyright protection to the citizens of the participating countries.

For a comprehensive listing of countries party to the Berne Convention, you may download the International Copyright Relations of the United States in a .pdf format.

See "Definitions: WIPO Copyright Treaty" & "Definitions: Universal Copyright Convention" & "Definitions: GATT" & "Definitions: No Copyright Relations"




BRUSH - also "brushes file" or .abr, .pcx, .tex files.  A brush file is a filter agent or plug-in used within graphic creation software. A brush normally generates textures, colors, opacity and general special effects to graphic images.

Brush files created by using copyrighted material, such as copyrighted scanned images, are illegal and constitute infringement. Distributing illegally created mechanisms for use by others is contributory infringement.

Brush files created using original material are legal and copyrighted to the original creator.

Redistribution of brushes without the permission of the copyright holder is illegal. Use of brushes are subject to the terms and conditions set forth by the copyright holder.

See also "Definitions: Tubes", "Definitions: Nozzle"




CEASE AND DESIST LETTER - A letter sent by the copyright holder to the copyright violator, ISP and/or the violator's website host.

The letter should include:

The specific details about your original copyrighted work, the date it was created or first published, specifically where it is located online and if you have registered the work, you should include your copyright registration number(s).

Outline the specific details of the infringement violation including specific links and file names.

Demand an immediate cease & desist of the violation.

Indicate a specific time period or deadline for the violation to be removed.

Be sure that your accurate contact information is included within the letter and if possible, send the letter certified mail with a return receipt.  If the letter must be emailed, be sure to copy all parties who may be involved in the copyright infringement violation.

All communications between copyright holders and alleged violators should be professional, non-emotional, and matter of fact but without harassment, name calling or threats.

See "Examples: Cease & Desist Letter"




COLLECTION / COMPILATION SITE - A site that is created with a variety of graphics, midis, or files from more than one copyright holder. Permission must be received from each copyright holder for every image, midi or file in the collection.  If permission is not given, the compilation site is in copyright violation.




COPYRIGHT - A legal device giving the right to control (to the original creator or copyright holder) how their original work is used.  Copyright protection begins automatically upon the fixing of an original work or creation to a tangible medium (per the Copyright Act of 1976 effective in 1978).

There are three fundamental criteria for copyright:

Fixation to a tangible medium
Originality
Minimal creativity

Registering your original work with the Office of Copyright is not required for intellectual property to be protected by copyright; however, in the event that infringement should lead to litigation, the legal registration of the original work will benefit the creator. Very few attorneys will mediate a copyright issue if the intellectual property has not been registered with the Office of Copyright prior to the alleged infraction. Before an infringement suit may be filed in court, registration is necessary for works of U. S. origin.

Names, titles, slogans and short phrases are not protected by copyright law but may be protected under trademark, tradename or slogan mark laws.




COPYRIGHT ACT of 1976 - It significantly revised the laws of copyright that had been in effect in the U.S.A. since 1909.

It is formally Public Law 94-553, which revised the Copyright Law of the United States, Title 17 U.S. Code, effective January 1, 1978

Each section of Title 17 can be reviewed or downloaded from the U.S. Copyright Office.




COPYRIGHT EXPIRATION - Duration of copyright is relative to when the work was created and/or published.  (including data from Term Extension Act, PL 105-298) For example:

Original work created after 1977 and is fixed to a tangible medium is copyrighted to the original creator for life plus 70 years.

Original work created by employees for their employer lasts for 95 years from original publication or 120 years from date of creation (whichever occurs first).

Original works created and published between 1923-1963 are copyrighted for 95 years (28 years + 47 year renewal + 20 year extension) only if the work was timely renewed.  If no renewal was filed, the work is now in the public domain.

Original work created and published between 1964-1977 lasts for 95 years (28 years + automatic extension of 67 years) and no renewal had to be filed.

Original work created before January 1978 but not published lasts for life plus 70 years or expires 12-31-2002 (whichever is greater).

Original work created before January 1978 and published between then and 12/2002 lasts life plus 70 years or expires 12-31-2047 (whichever is greater).

Original work created before 1923 has no term and is in public domain.




COPYRIGHT LIMITATIONS - The following are basic limitations on copyright:

Facts, concepts and ideas are not protected by copyright.  How the fact, concept and/or idea is expressed via tangible creation is protected.

Works not protected by copyright are considered in public domain and belong to the public for free use.

Fair use exceptions are allowable for such purposes of teaching, research, news reports, and critiques provided that the value of the copyrighted material is protected.




COPYRIGHT MANAGEMENT INFORMATION - This is made up of the following:

The copyright notice either by word and/or symbol and the date.

Creator's name or information identifying the creator, or

The copyright holder's name or identifying information.

Terms and conditions for use of the work.

The identifying information about the work including numbers, symbols, or links to the identifying information.




COPYRIGHT NOTICE - The use of the symbol © followed by the date and owner's name. This symbol is created on a standard PC keyboard by locking NUM LOCK and holding down the ALT key while using the numbers panel to type in 0169. On Apple's Mac, using the KeyCaps, press Option+G.

This notice of copyright © was required after the Copyright Act of 1976. However, after the Berne Convention in March 1989, this notice became optional (a notice of copyright on works created before this date is important due to the legal requirements at the time of creation).

Use of the complete copyright notice is recommended on all original works because the notice will benefit the copyright owner should an issue of infringement occur. A violator cannot claim innocence regarding the established copyright if the copyright notice is apparent.

Some countries may still require a notice of reservation of rights such as the indication, "All rights reserved".

See also "Definitions: Removing Copyright Information" and "Definitions: Copyright Management Information"




COPYRIGHT OWNERSHIP - Ownership of copyright belongs to the original creator with the following exceptions:

Works for hire - Provided the original work is created by an employee as part of their job, the copyright belongs to the employer.

Works for hire by agreement - creating a work under contractual agreement in which the resulting property is owned by the contractor.

Transfer of copyright - the copyright owner can sell or transfer the rights to original work.  However, a transfer of copyright can be terminated 35 years after it is transferred by either the original creator or their heirs.




COPYRIGHT TERM EXTENSION ACT - Also known as the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, it was passed by President Bill Clinton in 1998. CTEA retroactively extended the duration of copyright from the life of author/creator plus fifty years to the life of the author/creator plus seventy years, in the case of individual works, and from seventy-five years to ninety-five years in the case of works of corporate authorship and works first published before January 1, 1978.

CTEA basically added 20 additional years to the provisions of the Copyright Act of 1976.

See "Definitions: Copyright Expiration"




DEEP LINKING - When a link is posted on one website that bypasses the entrance or home page, it is referred to as deep linking.  It may also apply to instances when a link bypasses a page indicating the terms of use or specific copyright information.  If a site posts where a link should refer as part of the terms of use for material contained within their website, it is wise and prudent to follow those specific terms of use.




DIGITAL MILLENNIUM COPYRIGHT ACT - Enacted in 1998, the DMCA offers the most complete and appropriate reform to United States copyright law regarding internet and digital copyright protection. The function of the DMCA is to bring copyright law into the digital world and become ratified by the WIPO Treaties.

A complete copy of The Digital Millennium Copyright Act can be downloaded in .pdf format.



DINGBAT - A font consisting of various decorative marks or symbols or illustrations.

May be copyrighted by the creator of the marks, symbols or illustrations.

Redistribution of dingbat fonts without the permission of the copyright holder is illegal. Use of dingbat fonts are subject to the terms and conditions set forth by the copyright holder.




EMAIL COPYRIGHT - The original author of an email letter holds the copyright on that email. Therefore, email is protected under the same laws as a physical letter: unless the author has granted permission for the email to be reprinted or it is being reprinted under the conditions of fair use, the reproduction, forwarding, copying or modifying of an email is copyright infringement.




FAIR USE - Fair use are exceptions in copyright that are allowable for such purposes of teaching, research and scholarship functions, in the function news reporting, and critiques, reviews or comments on the work provided that the value of the copyrighted material is protected and is not diminished.      

There are five basic elements in determining fair use:

the purpose and reason for the use
is it commercial vs. non-profit or educational
the nature of the copyrighted work
the amount or portion of the work used
does the use of the work diminish the value

Fair use also includes "parody" or a work that mocks or ridicules a work by imitation.  It uses elements of the original work to create a new work, that in some way, comments on the original work.




FIXATION - The act of preserving original works/creations on any tangible medium (paper, hard drive, computer diskette, CD, recording device, video camera, etc.)




FONT - A complete assortment of type (or typeface) in one style.

May be copyrighted by the creator of the style.

Redistribution of fonts without the permission of the copyright holder is illegal. Use of fonts are subject to the terms and conditions set forth by the copyright holder.




GATT - General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, it was signed by the U.S. in 1994. GATT, in agreement with Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, makes it possible to impose powerful international penalties for copyright infringement. This includes monetary and injunctive damages.

GATT also implements the settlement of international copyright disputes through the World Trade Organization.

"Definitions: WIPO Copyright Treaty" & "Definitions: Universal Copyright Convention" & "Definitions: Berne Convention" & "Definitions: No Copyright Relations"




INFRINGEMENT- The unlawful use, redistribution and/or exploitation of intellectual property that is protected by copyright, patent or trademark.

The four basic elements that can establish copyright infringement:

All of the work is exactly copied or reproduced

Part of the work is copied or reproduced

Reworking (or paraphrasing)

Copying the TOTAL concept, feel or essence of a work

Infringement can be punished by law including but not limited to recovery of monetary losses, punitive damages and/or misdemeanor or criminal prosecution.




INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY - All works/creations under the federal protection of copyrights, trademarks and patents.




INTERFACE GRAPHICS - See "Definitions: Linkware"




LIABLE- To be legally bound to make good on any loss or damage that may occur.

Anyone who infringes on the copyright of another is liable.  Also liable is anyone (or company) who participates in contributory infringement such as an ISP who knowingly allows the transmittal of unauthorized use of copyrighted materials or a web host who knowingly permits the copying, distribution or display of copyrighted works without the permission of the copyright holder.

As the result of the court case United States vs. LaMacchia 871 F. Supp 535 in 1994, Congress amended the copyright law to allow criminal prosecution of copyright violators regardless of whether financial gain is made from the illegal use of copyrighted materials.




LINK COLLECTIONS - While an individual link is not protected by copyright, the creative online collection of links is considered a compilation and therefore falls under copyright protection.




LINKWARE - A term primarily describing graphic images created for use under the specific terms and conditions that include, but are not limited to, a referring link in exchange for permission to use the copyrighted graphics.




MIDI - Stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface.  Original compositions created within and for the midi format are copyrighted to the original creator.

Reproducing a copyrighted song via midi format and redistributing this midi is copyright infringement.  Displaying and/or collecting for redistribution illegally reproduced midis is copyright infringement.




MINIMAL CREATIVITY - Copyright only protects works that show minimal creativity but would not cover simple listings like ingredients for a recipe or listings in the white page phone directory.




MISAPPROPRIATION - To use wrongly or improperly.

In terms of copyright, it is the act of theft or improper use of intellectual property often times for financial or personal gain.




MP3 - Stands for Motion Picture Experts Group 3 or M-PEG3.  It is a format that compresses and digitizes audio files.

Converting original copyrighted material to MP3 format and redistributing the MP3 file without the consent of the copyright holder constitutes infringement.




NO COPYRIGHT RELATIONS - As of February 2000, the following countries have no copyright treaties signed with the U.S.A. and offer no international copyright protection:

Afghanistan, Bhutan, Ethiopia, Iran, Iraq, Nepal, Oman, San Marino, Tonga and Yemen.

The U.S. Copyright Office does not keep a current listing of participating countries however a 1999 download list via .pdf is available.




NOTICE OF CLAIMED INFRINGEMENT - This is the cease and desist letter that is sent to a site host or ISP when claims of copyright infringement are made against a website hosted on their server.

See "Definitions: Cease and Desist Letter" and "Examples: Letter to a Site Host"




NOZZLE - also "nozzle file" or .rif file.  A nozzle file is a filter agent or plug-in used within graphic creation software. A nozzle normally generates multiples of similar images and in some applications, dispenses images from a tube file.

Nozzle files created by using copyrighted material, such as copyrighted scanned images, are illegal and constitute infringement. Distributing illegally created mechanisms for use by others is contributory infringement.

Nozzle files created using original material are legal and copyrighted to the original creator.

Redistribution of nozzles without the permission of the copyright holder is illegal.

Use of images contained within a nozzle file are subject to the terms and conditions set forth by the copyright holder.

See also "Definitions: Brush", "Definitions: Tube"




ORIGINALITY - Based on the concept of the word itself: having to do with the origin or first creation in or of a work.




PATENT - A patent protects ideas expressed as an invention, machine or function/process.  It also protects the new uses for protected items.




PLAGIARIZE - To take the works of another person and attempt to pass them off as one's own.  A plagiarist poses as the original creator of words or images that were originally created by someone else. [A plagiarist can also be a copyright violator by taking credit for work that is copyrighted]




POOR MAN'S COPYRIGHT - There is a method in which some people feel they are protecting their copyright(s) often referred to as a "Poor Man's Copyright":

They will make copies of their written work, photos of their images, copies of their sheet music, etc. and place these copies in an envelope and seal this envelope securely. They address the envelope to themselves and post the envelope; often times they will send it to themselves as certified mail. The idea is that the documents inside the envelope are sealed and when mailed, there is a U.S. government record of the date mailed by use of the cancellation/postal stamp. The envelope is NOT opened but instead put away for "safekeeping" in the event that an original copyright date is required. If there was any legal question regarding who created something first, the idea is that the unopened envelope could be entered into the litigation as "proof" of the origin and date of the work.

However, this idea of a "Poor Man's Copyright" is a myth and not valid in a court of law. The only time copyright litigation can be pursued is when the original creator of intellectual property has REGISTERED the property with the U.S. Office of Copyright (provided they live in the U.S.).

Does the "Poor Man's Copyright" PROVE that the work was created by the date it was mailed? Not in a legal court of law. Again, the only proof (or prima facie evidence of validity) is when the original work is legally registered with the proper authorities.




PRIVACY RIGHTS - These are rights or interests granted to an individual when a likeness (photograph, painting, drawing, etc.) is personal in character, and that the subject and his/her likeness cannot be cast before the public eye without his/her consent. This is the right to be left alone.

This includes publishing or reproducing for public viewing group or individual photos taken without the subject(s) expressed written permission.

Using a photograph of a public figure can not only breach their Privacy Rights, but may also be a breach of their Publicity Rights.

See "Definitions: Publicity Rights"




PUBLIC DOMAIN - Everything that is not protected by copyright.

Many individuals believe that everything on the internet is in public domain.  It is not. Only works with an expired copyright, works created by (and possibly "for") the federal government, or works specifically dedicated by the copyright holder as "public domain" are considered public domain.

NEVER assume something is in public domain. It is prudent to always assume something is protected by copyright.




PUBLICATION - A work is considered published if copies are distributed to the public in any way (sold or given away) by the copyright owner.  This would include the publication of electronic and/or digital images.




PUBLICITY RIGHTS - These are rights associated with the commercial value connected with an individual's name, image or voice. The publicity right of the subject is that their image may not be commercially exploited without his/her consent and potential compensation. Many estates or representatives of famous authors, musicians, actors, photographers, politicians, sports figures, celebrities, and other public figures control and license the uses of those figures' names, likenesses, etc. throughout their careers and even after their deaths.

However, the limitation may not only be set as commercial use but also in respect to Privacy Rights.

See "Definitions: Privacy Rights"




REGISTRATION - Registering copyright is beneficial because you cannot sue for copyright infringement without registration.  If you register your copyright within the first three months of its original publication, or prior to the date of infringement, you can then sue for (1) attorney's fees and (2) punitive damages up to $100,000 per infringement.

Residents of the United States can learn more about copyright registration and obtain forms by download from the U.S. Copyright office.

The basic filing fee, as of July 1, 2006, per registration is $45.00 (includes registrations, document recordation, supplementary registration, search services, certificates, and additional certificates). The Copyright Office proposes, on or about July 1, 2007, a reduced fee of $35.00 for an electronic filing of a basic copyright registration while retaining the current $45.00 fee for a paper application.

A fee schedule can be found at the U.S. Copyright office.




REDISTRIBUTION - the unauthorized use of copyrighted material via sharing files, establishing collections, or the developing of websites for gain while using copyright restricted images, photography, coding, writing (content), etc.




REMOVING COPYRIGHT INFORMATION - The Digital Millennium Copyright Act  (DMCA) specifically makes it illegal to remove any or all copyright information from copyrighted works.  This law provides copyright holders with the right to sue for damages in the event that the copyright management information is changed or removed from protected works.

The DMCA is extremely important online because it is the precedent setting ruling giving definitive rights of attribution to the copyright holder.

See "Definitions: Copyright Management Information"




RIGHTS - Per the Copyright Act of 1976, the following exclusive rights are granted within copyright:

The right of DISTRIBUTION - granting the privilege of selling or in some manner distributing copies of intellectual property to the public.          

The right of REPRODUCTION - granting the privilege of making copies of the protected work.

The right of DERIVATIVE WORKS - granting the privilege of creating new works or adaptations based on the protected work.

The right of DISPLAY and/or PERFORMANCE - granting the privilege to publicly display or perform a protected work.




ROYALTY FREE - A term often used in photography CD collections or on CD collections of images.  May also refer to the purchase of images from online sources.

An initial fee is paid for the purchase of the CD, online images or a collection of photos, and the purchaser may use the image(s) as often as required within the license terms and conditions without paying for the use of the image each time the image is used.

Please note that the purchase of a CD collection does not offer unlimited or unrestricted use of the images contained on the CD.  Most distributors have very specific limitations on how the images can be used, placed online electronically, or reprinted.

Always read the licensing terms and conditions for each distributor.




SCANNED IMAGES - Any image that is created by use of scanning equipment.

Scanning images from copyrighted materials (books, magazines, greeting cards, wallpaper, etc.) for reproduction on a website is a violation of copyright unless permission has been granted by the copyright holder.




TANGIBLE MEDIUM - Any medium (paper, hard drive, computer diskette, CD, recording device, video camera, etc.) in which the original creation (intellectual property) can be fixed within and preserved.




TERMS OF USE - The written conditions or agreements for which permission of use is granted or restricted.

See also "Definitions: Use" and "Examples: Terms of Use"




TRADEMARK - Protects product names, service names and the associated slogans or advertising copy. It can consist of a word, phrase, logo or other graphic symbol. Titles, character names or distinctive features used with multimedia can also be trademarked.




TUBE - also "tube file" or .tub file.  A tube file is a filter agent or plug-in used within graphic creation software. A tube normally generates multiples of similar images.

Tube files created by using copyrighted material, such as copyrighted scanned images, are illegal and constitute infringement. Distributing illegally created mechanisms for use by others is contributory infringement.

Tube files created using original material are legal and copyrighted to the original creator.

Redistribution of tubes without the permission of the copyright holder is illegal.

Use of images contained within a .tub file are subject to the terms and conditions set forth by the copyright holder.

See also "Definitions: Brush", "Definitions: Nozzle"




TUTORIAL - A course of study, often online, regarding a specific topic.

A tutorial itself may be copyrighted to the creator of the tutorial. However, some techniques may not be copyrighted due to the limitations of methods or procedures to accomplish a task, create an effect or produce a file.

An original image that is created by the tutorial writer belongs to the tutorial writer.

Following the steps of the tutorial to replicate the original image creates a reproduction or derivation of the original image.

Only the original creator (tutorial writer) can stipulate via terms of use (license) how the resulting image is used by individuals recreating the original image.

Always check the tutorial writer's Terms of Use before creating any image.




UNIVERSAL COPYRIGHT CONVENTION - An important international copyright treaty which has been superseded by the Berne Convention for countries signing at Berne.

The U.C.C. treaty is important in countries that did not sign the Berne Convention, GATT or WIPO because it grants national treatment.          

In addition, U.C.C. affords international copyright protection (to signing countries) on works published in the U.S.A. before March 1989 that had not been also published in a Berne country.

"Definitions: WIPO Copyright Treaty" & "Definitions: Berne Convention" & "Definitions: GATT" & "Definitions: No Copyright Relations"




USE- Copyright infringement occurs when intellectual property is used without permission or without following the stipulated "terms of use".  Use is defined as the copying, distributing, adapting, or publicly displaying a work without the permission of the copyright holder.

See also "Definitions: Terms of Use"




.WAV - Perhaps named after "sound wave", a .wav file is constructed using the RIFF format for reproducing sound in multimedia formats.  Wav files created from copyrighted materials (movies, plays, music, etc.) and redistributed without permission are infringing on the copyrights of the original creator or publisher (who holds the copyright).




WIPO COPYRIGHT TREATY - World Intellectual Property Organization is a United Nations organization who created a treaty in 1996 to supplement the Berne Convention.

The WIPO Copyright Treaty provides specific coverage for copyright protection of digital works and/or computer software.  It covers issues such as the unauthorized placement of intellectual property on a website and basis for infringement.




WORKS FOR HIRE - Per the Copyright Act of 1976 - Section 101, two basic tenets fall under the "works for hire" category:

Works made by employees as part of their employment
Specific works created by non-employees under definitive contract indicating that the ordered or commissioned work is deemed a "work for hire".   

An employee receives benefits such as insurance, retirement plans, etc. and their Social Security taxes and unemployment insurance are paid by their employer.

Non-employee commissioned work must fall under nine types to be considered a "work for hire" provided that both parties expressly agree in a written instrument signed by them that the work shall be considered a work made for hire:

Collective work commissions such as contributions a newspaper, a magazine, or collection of works such as an anthology.
Part of a movie, film, or screenplay. A sound recording.
A translation.
Supplementary works that assist, illustrate, revise or conclude, such as maps, charts, tables, forewards/afterwords, appendixes, indices.
A compilation.
An instructional text.
As a test.
As answer material for a test.
An atlas.


The data contained within this site has been reviewed and edited by a copyright attorney. However, the information provided within the pages of R.I.G.H.T.S is not implied or direct legal advice. For all matters involving copyright, please consult an attorney.