Copyright Law: Alive and Well on the Internet


Copyright Law: Alive and Well on the Internet

Editors learn fine points of copyright law at Denver chapter meeting.

At the May 14 meeting of the Denver chapter of ASBPE, Jon R. Tandler, JD, from Isaacson, Rosenbaum, Woods & Levy, Denver, gave an overview on basic copyright principles and then described several Internet-related cases.

One such case was Kelly v. Arriba Soft Corp. (9th Cir. 2002). In this case, Arriba developed a photographic research engine database of images it pulled from the Web. It displayed thumbnail-sized images and also linked full-size images from other sites into its site (inline linking). One of the owners of those images (Kelly) sued for copyright infringement.

The court ruled that the thumbnail sketches constituted fair use – and thus were not an infringement. The decision was based on four characteristics of this use:

  • Transformativeness. Arriba’s use is to help index and improve access to images on the Internet;
  • Nature of copyrighted work.The images were creative (this further cut against Arriba);
  • Amount and substantiality of portion used. The extent of permissible copying varies with the purpose and character of the work; and
  • Effect of use upon potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. The court determined that Arriba’s use of the thumbnails did not adversely affect the market for or value of the original copyrighted images.

However, the court ruled that the inline linking did constitute a copyright violation because the use of full-size images was an infringement of public display right.

For more information or questions regarding copyright, contact Jon R. Tandler, JD, at or (303) 256-3987.

ASBPE members can also read a longer report on copyright issues from the September/October 2002 ASBPE newsletter, “Don’t let copyright issues surprise you.” Go to the Members Only section and choose Newsletter Archive.


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