Copyright Laws in an Online Setting

I examined the website historichwy49.com for any potential ethical or legal problems.

According to the website:

Historichwy49.com was designed to preserve and share the heritage and rugged beauty of Hwy 49 and the Gold Country, one of California’s most precious resources, with everyone, everywhere.” 

The website consists of historical pictures, history of the area, and current attractions in Gold Country. Upon looking at this website, I immediately felt that the pictures could be problematic. 

After reading Owning the Past? and looking at the type of pictures on the website, I found that this wasn’t really an issue. Anything published before 1923 is fair game, without any copyright restrictions, meaning it is all under public domain. If the website was based on a different time, this would definitely be a problem, but due to the time period this site represents, it bypasses many potential copyright issues.

While there are no copyright laws applicable to these photos, the website only asks for recognition with a disclaimer upon use:

“Research: photos may be downloaded at no charge for use in non profit, educational research projects for students and teachers. Please email us with your name, educational affiliation, project name and a list of photos used. Please give credit under each photo: ‘Photo Credit historichwy49.com’”

Even with my limited legal knowledge, I feel that ethically/legally there shouldn’t be any issues with the use of the photos and information on historichwy49.com.

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