The Internet is a tool for sharing information around the world, but it is also being utilized as a medium for thousands of companies. Whether it is used for advertising or for selling their products, these companies have vast opportunities on the Web because they can reach a much wider audience than is possible through other mediums. Copyright is an important factor for online businesses. Due to the fact that making exact copies of a digital work is extremely easy to do with today’s technology, businesses must be careful as to what they put online and as to how they protect it. There have been a number of cases related to copyright infringement on the Internet. One example is when a website called Total News linked directly to articles on the Washington Post website, bypassing its homepage. By doing this, Total News decreased the amount of income the Washington Post earned from advertisements on their site. In addition, Total News had framed these articles with their own advertisements from which they benefited. In Great Britain, the BBC succeeded in removing from nineteen private websites images from the popular children’s’ show “Teletubbies” due to copyright infringements. In 1996, Sega Enterprises sued the Bulletin Board Operator Maphia for uploading/downloading Sega videogames without authorization1. This case is similar to the current case involving Napster, and the trading of copyrighted music, which is mentioned below.
Much copyrighted work on the Web is very valuable, such as software, graphics, music, etc. Businesses that sell these types of goods must take extra precautions to prevent the stealing of their products. There are a few means of protection that may be taken to prevent infringement. One way that companies do this is by restricting access to their websites by making a password mandatory for entrance. Only paying customers may enter the site, leaving non-payers excluded. This type of security helps to keep the majority of the public out, but does not keep hackers out of the site. Hackers who are determined can break into any site on the Internet. Another type of copyright protection is a software program that “watermarks” images with copyright information. This “watermark” helps to identify copyright violations. There are also companies, such as Media Enforcer, that are paid by their clients to search the Web for copyright infringements2.