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Sunday, May 12, 2002


Kate's Influence. Although Kate Hartshorn is engaged in other endeavors at the moment and won't be contributing her insights, her influence here has been significant. I am going to attempt to address topics that are in her expertise domain, but more importantly, want to assure everyone that she's doing exceptionally well. If you enjoyed her contributions here and want to show it, you can always surprise her with something from her wish list. Who knows, it may hasten her return.

Among Kate's areas of expertise are copyrights, trademarks and intellectual property. I've collected a number of books and software applications that either explain these important topics or assist in the management of the underlying processes, or both. For background material for the following software applications I strongly recommend that you read CyberRegs: A Business Guide to Web Property, Privacy, and Patents by Bill Zoellick (see Kate's 8 November 2001 review on Amazon for why this book is important) and Cyberlaw and E-Commerce by J. Carl Poindexter and David L. Baumer (see my 18 April 2002 Amazon review for details). These two books will give you the fundamentals of copyright and trademark law in particular, and the much larger picture of intellectual property in general. If copyrights or patents are topics of interest, then you'll want to consider one or both of the following software applications:

  • Official Copyright Software 1.53 by Official Software, LLC. This application makes applying for copyrights as painless as possible (the process will still be painful regardless, but at least you'll be avoiding a large portion of it). This package shields you from the legal mumbo jumbo and leads you through an interactive process of applying for a copyright. It does this using an interviewing process and assists with the completion of the following forms: PA, PA/S, TX, TX/S, VA, VA/S and Form SR, all of which are important and all of which can be completed interactively on your system. You also get Form CA for Corrections & Amplifications, and Form CON Continuation Sheet in the package.
    It also gives key information from Copyright Office circulars to assist you when filling in the form fields, and this is why your finished forms should be checked by an attorney before submission. The value of this program is that you can save many hours of expensive attorney time by doing the up-front work, which will minimize the legal costs of preparing and submitting a copyright application. As an added bonus this program also provides advice about how to use the copyright. The publisher also has specific online forms that can be used with this package that cover everything from music to architecture.
    It also covers copyrights for online works & websites.
  • Official Trademark Software 1.0, also by Official Software, LLC. It uses an interactive interviewing function to step you through the trademark process. The function selects the correct forms that you need, and identifies the classification under which you need to file and lets you know what needs to be included in the submission package.
    It also comes with editable forms from the USPTO, and advice (also from USPTO) for filling in the forms. As you fill in the forms using the interactive interview process you'll be building your submission package. The program also does online searches to ensure that your trademark is available.
If you're interested in both copyrights and patents, you can save by purchasing Official Intellectual Property Suite, which is both of the above programs bundled together. I want to add a caveat - these products allow you to do a lot of the groundwork yourself, but do not replace professional advice of an attorney (I am NOT an attorney, but certainly know better than to wade into shark infested waters without the benefit of legal advice).

If you do web or software development, or contract for these services, you'll greatly benefit from Web and Software Development: A Legal Guide. This book/CD ROM combination covers intellectual property from a developer's (and buyer's) perspective. It is both a tutorial in the basics and is filled with useful advice about all relevant issues, including employee and contractor agreements, trade secret protection, copyright rights (assignment, ownership and related issues), and how to protect all parties in a fair and equitable manner.

It covers contemporary issues such as domain names, web content and multimedia, making it especially useful to technical and non-technical readers.

In addition to clear explanations of complex topics and sound advice, this book comes with a CD ROM with a wealth of forms in RTF format (which can be edited in Microsoft Word and most other word processing programs). These 30 forms cover employee and contractor agreements, software and web development agreements, nondisclosure agreements, copyright assignments and license agreements and how to handle publicity releases and promotional materials in multimedia format. The latter is particularly challenging because not only are names involved, but photos and often voice and video files for which you need permission to use if you don't own it or it becomes a privacy issue. If you perform or contract for web or software development, including content, then you need this book.

If you're only doing software development, a better book is Copyright Your Software because it focuses solely on what you need to know about software copyrights and how to go about obtaining one. In addition to covering the basics of copyrights, you're shown how to sell copyrights, what to do in the event of infringement, and the limits of protection that a copyright affords you. Note that patents offer much stronger protection. This book comes with the following forms:

  • Copyright Application for Software (Forms PA, VA and CA, Request for Special Handling, continuation forms, search request forms and cover sheets that are explained in the book and are required to file for a copyright.
  • Eight sample forms in electronic format that are covered in the book.
The book is up-to-date (published in late 2001), easy to read, especially considering the thorny legal issues involved, and is complete enough to assure some degree of due diligence when researching copyright issues and making business decisions based on that research.

It's not enough to know how to protect your own work, you also need to know how to get permission to use the work of others, which is increasingly important in view of the issues surrounding deep linking and related challenges in a world where a simple HTML tag to someone else's work can bring legal problems. Getting Permission: How to License and Clear Copyrighted Materials Online and Off provides expert guidance that covers how to obtain permission, copyright research, what constitutes fair use, and how to legally use trademarks.

The book also clarifies the definition of "public domain" and what needs to be in a license agreement.

What makes this book especially valuable is that it comes with 32 forms that range from standard photo use and test use permission to linking agreements, interview releases, art for hire and more.

The other side of obtaining permission is controlling permission. We've all signed a nondisclosure agreement at one time or another, but did we understand what we were signing? Another gap is making presentations or providing information that discloses trade secrets, or business-sensitive information that you should be protecting with a nondisclosure agreement. Nondisclosure Agreements: Protect Your Trade Secrets and More covers the topic of NDAs as they are affectionately called in detail. This book explains how to protect you from both employees and competitors, as well as from potential business alliances (contractor/subcontractor, suitors in a merger or acquisition to whom you expose sensitive information, and clients to whom you make presentations and reveal processes and other sensitive information).

Key topics of importance that this book covers include:

  • How much protection an NDA affords you.
  • Remedies available to you in the NDA is violated.
  • Alternatives to NDAs.
It also covers non-compete agreements and their limitations, especially in certain states, and gives example NDAs for specific situations such as beta testing, customer data, etc. The accompanying CD ROM provides fifteen sample forms that can be used with little or no modification (although I recommend that all be checked by an attorney who specializes in intellectual property law and is familiar with nuances of the law in your state).

We're almost coming full circle with NDAs, because the next natural topic is privacy. Kate reviewed Secrets and Lies: Digital Security in a Networked World in 8 November 2001 that I thought was far more cogent and insightful than the 3 January 2001 review that I wrote. If you want to read a book that examples the technical and human aspects of security, this is the best there is. It certainly addresses privacy issues, but that isn't the main theme of the book. A better book on threats to privacy is World Without Secrets: Business, Crime and Privacy in the Age of Ubiquitous Computing, which Linda reviewed on Amazon on 21 April 2002. Where Secrets and Lies covered the social and technical issues, and took a threat identification and risk management approach, World Without Secrets is more focused on social issues surrounding privacy.

Matt Curtin is the author of a book titled Developing Trust: Online Privacy and Security that blends the best of Secrets and Lies and World Without Secrets. This book examines the social, legal and technical issues surrounding online privacy. Not only is the consumer side of privacy examined, but the business side from a marketing point of view is also discussed to present a balanced view of the key issues from both sides of the equation.

Mr. Curtin is an expert in privacy and security issues, as well as cryptography and security technology. The approach he takes in the book is to explain both the theory and concepts of privacy in social and legal contexts, and to examine the threats and exposures. From there he leads you through the design of a solution that starts with principles, then a thorough examination of the underlying online technologies and how they work for and against you. An obvious example of one technical element that works for and against is the 'cookie' which can provide a major convenience (it remembers you and your preferences) and an invasion of your privacy (it remembers you and your preferences - and can also 'stalk' you in a manner of speaking). How to best balance the strengths and weaknesses of not only the technology, but the business imperatives driving commercial uses of the internet are addressed.

This is an important book and earns a solid place alongside the popular Secrets and Lies, and the newer World Without Secrets.

Kate, we miss you.