INF 312, on the accuracy of the Copyright date

I’ve got some copyright related observations that really don’t affect us, but that I find interesting. In one of the modules I listed several characteristics of information in cyberspace (relatively) unique to cyberspace. These characterstics included the ease of creating, sharing, and changing information. As P2P demonstrates, there are obvious effects of copyright in cyberspace due to these characteristics. Here’s another effect of these characteristics: because our information changes so often, when we say © 2005 on our web site, well, a lot of that material could be © 2004, © 2003 or even earlier. Those original words were copyrighted when they were first expressed. However, there might not be a copy of those original words in a form that people can find, and it would be difficult if not impossible to separate the original expression from the derivative expression. With copyright terms being as long as they are, and digital media having a shelf life as short as it is, that probably isn’t a problem. Yet. In the far future, if we can figure out a way to preserve digital information in such a way that it exists as long as copyright exists- which right now is flat out not going to happen in 99.9% of digital materials- it will be difficult to prove when these ideas were first expressed in copyrightable form.

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