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Legal Considerations

With the advent of the Internet, intellectual property law entered a completely new frontier. Regardless of how some laws are eventually applied and new laws are enacted, there are a number of classic taboos that it’s important to remember when working with any images. There are copyright laws, which deal with who owns the rights to an image, phrase, or sound. There are trademark laws, which deal with how an individual or group identifies its business and product. There are patent laws, which involve a useful application of a new tool or procedure. And finally, there are privacy and publicity laws, which guarantee an individual’s right to ownership of his or her life and likeness.

The suggestions in this book are based on the legal statutes and precedents of the United States of America. Remember, however, that anything you post on the Web can be accessed by a global audience. If you are reading this book in the United States, your work on the Web is still subject to the laws in any other country. And no matter what country you’re in, your work may be subject to the laws of the United States. It pays to be conscientious; lawsuits are expensive, even if you win.


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