Sunday, January 18, 2009

Intellectual Property on the Internet: Making AdSense of Google Geeks

I'm trying to do some research on how Google AdSense works. It's the program that organizes the Internet according to key words and click ads. Obviously, Google is a web giant concerned with maintaining ethical practices. So it has it's own policies regarding types of websites their ads can be linked to, and one of those requirements is that the sites it is hosted on isn't infringing on any copyrights.

I was thinking that maybe if I were a bit more Internet savvy, I could make a bit of pocket change while helping out Internet users all over the world! But I would have to make sure to comply by Google's policies, which I read painstakingly.

So where do I start?

First, I was stuck at what constitutes "fair use" in terms of using parts of copyrighted material as say, you would do when quoting an author in a review you write about them on the Internet. If I was hosting an ad for Google, could it be on a page that has a Felix the Cat cartoon on it? Hmm, what if I drew the cartoon of Felix the Cat? Would I have to cite original animator Otto Messmer? I guess I should make sure, I thought. After all, I wouldn't want to sign up with Google AdSense and then end up having my account with them brutally suspended for unwittingly tramping all over someone's licenced material. I'm not even sure how I get other sites to host the ads, nevermind sort out which ones were infringers, but here I am. I'm paranoid about plaigarism.

There are different ways to infringe on someone's licenced material, but the largest factor the courts usually consider is whether your "use" of the material has an effect on the market ie. are you providing an accessible copy of a Rembrandt painting, and as a result, does it diminish the value of the original? Are you making money off of it? If you were, I think you would be conclusively infringing on whoever owns that painting.

But in clarifying the distinction between copyright infringement and fair use, I got a real kick out of the examples used by, an organization about online intellectual property rights. Note the references to Startrek:

"Only material that originated with the author can support a copyright. Items from the public domain which appear in a work, as well as work borrowed from others, cannot be the subject of an infringement claim. Also, certain stock material might not be copyrightable, such as footage that indicates a location like the standard shots of San Francisco in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Also exempted are stock characters like the noisy punk rocker who gets the Vulcan death grip in Star Trek IV."

It goes on to explain how licensed material has to be in a fixed form of expression, so that:
"if I perform a Klingon death wail in a local park, my performance is not copyrightable. However, if I film the performance, then the film is copyrightable."

Watch Startrek much?

With the ever-increasing need to classify ever-increasing amounts of information on the internet, I think it's going to be an increasing challenge/opportunity to maximize information use without violating creative property.



Blogger madamerouge said...


It is interesting. I get the sense that trying to control copyrighted material on the Internet is so much tilting at windmills.

2:31 p.m.  
Blogger Adorable Girlfriend said...

When you talk legalese, I get a little more hot for you.

And Madamerouge?!! You owe your Facebook GIRLFRIEND (I am sooo sorry about that, dude!) some comment love at her new bloggie blog of!

11:58 a.m.  
Blogger Devil Mood said...

Hey, thanks for the big comment on my post. I still have doubts about whether good days causing good dreams or bad days causing bad dreams, but I think we should definitely start having good days now and hopefully we'll have eternally happy dreams.

4:45 p.m.  

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