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Legal Issues about Downloading Applets

 
Tina Parks
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Can anyone point me to some references concerning the copyright issues surrounding Java applets. Most specifically...
If I download an applet from another site and install it in my own HTML page (prominently crediting the original author wherever the applet appears), have I violated a copyright? Keep in mind:
1. I am not explicitly distributing the class files to anyone else, just using it on my own computer,
2. The author is credited for his work at all times.
 
Tim Holloway
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If they placed a copyright notice on the work and they didn't say it was OK in the notice, yes, it would be. In some cases, maybe anyway, but that's getting into legalisms and possible international legalisms at that.
You're best off contacting the author and getting permission. It's the polite thing to do anyway.
 
Tina Parks
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Does it matter if the material is strictly for in-class use? I thought educators were given more leeway in this regard.
 
Tina Parks
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To answer my own question, it appears that downloading applets and incorporating them into your own instructional materials is not a copyright infringement as long as the setting is purely educational. Here is what I found. Does anyone disagree with my assessment?
"Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.
In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include -
(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;
(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors."
 
Tim Holloway
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That's the Fair Use Doctrine. Unfortunately, the Digital Millenium Copyright Act seems to have been crafted with the intent of extirpating Fair Use. The Russian programmer who's currently awaiting trial in the U.S. was arrested for developing a program that was designed to make "fair-use" backups of e-books - which is quite legal in his own country.
If you're using it solely for your own benefit and no one else ever sees it, I wouldn't worry - we're not to the level of having the FBI do house-to-house searches of peoples computer for "illegal use of copyrighted material" (yet). Beyond that, get a lawyer and pray.
 
Tina Parks
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In your opinion, would it help if I showed the applet to an audience, then destroyed it immediately afterwards? I am not talking about hiding the evidence, but rather just availing myself of the applet as quickly as possible.
 
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