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Chapter 10. Commerce Communities …How to... > Harnessing Customer Loyalty

Harnessing Customer Loyalty

Where Saturn got it immediately, other companies took a little longer to catch on to the power of community on the web. Lucasfilm, the creators of the wildly popular Star Wars movies, initially cracked down on Star Wars fan sites. While they were legally justified (that image of Han Solo you scanned out of a magazine is a copyright violation, after all), the result was just a lot of pissed-off fans. And when you anger your customers, you only wind up with fewer customers. It’s not rocket science to understand how this can apply to your bottom line.

Copywhat?

If you’re doing design on the web, you’d better know about copyright. In a nutshell, if you create an original work of art (be it a website or a sketch on a napkin or an epic novel), you own the copyright on it. You can register this copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office, but that’s just for bookkeeping—you own the copyright either way.

Owning the copyright means you have the right to copy it and no one else does (with the exception of comment and critique or parody, which are fair use). You also have the right to make derivative works from the original artwork, but others do not (unless you specifically give them permission). In the least, that means grabbing an image from one site and putting it on another is a strict no-no. And if you run a community site, you’d better make sure your users know that.

For more on U.S. Copyright laws, visit the U.S. Copyright Office (loc.gov/copyright).



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