How to: Use the web to check copyright
With the size of the Internet a lot a files, thoughts, musings, writings, paintings, pictures, etc, get “accidently” made available for those who have not paid for them. Students copy and paste whole sections of documents for their own papers, and less scrupulous individuals copy for their own reasons. A lot of companies have gotten around this by instigating DRM protection schemes, despite protests by consumers. The worst part though is that for those of us who provide content on the web, it’s actually pretty hard to keep that information secure.
Plagiarized text files are one of the easiest to find. Tools like Google are actually very useful here, but have the potential to come up with way too many hits. There are a lot of pay-per-use or subscription tools available on the market that will search for plagiarism, but Reprint Writers has put a great tool online that searches better then Google does. Unfortunately it only searches Yahoo so it may miss some hits.
On the other hand there are times when one does need to publish materials online and may not be the original author, or the original author may not be readily apparent or available. The Library Copyright Digital Slider tool could be very useful. Geared towards Librarians, it is extremely useful in identifying works that may have become public domain.
If the publication in question is a book it should be copyrighted via the Library of Congress. Some of that information is online via this link . Unfortunately, a good portion of this information is still offline, but it is being added slowly but surely. The provided link also has information about how to contribute to this project.
More recently web photography has really taken off. A lot of people with cheap digital cameras are posting pictures left and right, and just as quickly those pictures are being pulled from services such as Flickr and used by others.
Idee, Inc has a new tool that is in beta called Tineye. It actually goes out on the web and searches for pictures. Pictures that it’s seen before (and it’s constantly searching,) are given a unique identifier based on pixels in the graphic. Tineye scours the web for any picture that comes close, including those that were photoshopped or other wise altered.
In this day age copyright is an important concern for everyone involved. Using the above tools will make it easier to identify such cases and take appropriate action. Doing so will also help keep the unintentional infringements from happening.