[LINK] Copyright questions

Roger Clarke Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au
Thu Mar 24 16:54:08 AEDT 2011

At 16:17 +1100 24/3/11, Bernard Robertson-Dunn wrote:
>If I find a document on the web and put a copy of it (unchanged) on my
>website and make reference to it, am I doing anything wrong - legally or


You have *some* kind of implied licence, at least to download it to 
your device for display, but probably rather more than that.

There may be an explicit licence granted somewhere (maybe in a 
higher-level directory), and it's probably incumbent upon you to look 
for one, and if there is one to respect its terms.

In the absence of an explicit licence, it's unlikely that anyone 
knows what you can and can't do.

There may be some limited case law by now, but:
-   it's probably highly specific not generic
-   it's probably low-court and hence not binding on any court
-   as and when appeals ever happen there will be reversals,
     and conflicting ratio decidendi and obiter dicta
-   it'll be a decade more before a senisible judicioal consensus emerge

So we all keep doing what we do.

Personally I invoke two further levels of protection (well confusion, anyway):
-   I use the term 'mirror' for such copies, to convey that it's not
     being represented as the original
-   I refer *firstly* to the original (knowing it will probably disappear
     when the next brilliant and ignorant young webmaster redesigns the site),
     and only secondly to the mirror

The intention is to pre-counter any argument that I'm trying to 
'steal' hit-count or even falsely assert legal or intellectual 

>If that document is now no longer available on the web and I put a copy
>of it (unchanged) on my website and make reference to it, am I doing
>anything wrong - legally or otherwise?

Quite possibly, but not certainly.

And these things are policed by nastygrams more than by legal actions.

An appropriate response to *some* nastygrams may be in order, where 
any reasonable claim could be made that the mirror you've put up 
might be denying a stream of revenue that copyright law arguably 

I am of course focussing on 'documents', and staying away from the 
somewhat more messy contexts of music, video and especially filums.

Roger Clarke                                 http://www.rogerclarke.com/

Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd      78 Sidaway St, Chapman ACT 2611 AUSTRALIA
                    Tel: +61 2 6288 1472, and 6288 6916
mailto:Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au                http://www.xamax.com.au/

Visiting Professor in the Cyberspace Law & Policy Centre      Uni of NSW
Visiting Professor in Computer Science    Australian National University

More information about the Link mailing list