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What Can You (Legally) Take From the Web?

Web sites and bloggers beware: copyright law applies to you too

5 min read

Intellectual property law has a history of clashing with new technologies. In the early 1900s, for example, when player pianos were all the rage, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that the perforated music rolls fed into player pianos were not music—essentially because they didn’t look like sheet music and performed a mechanical function. The ruling meant that sellers of the music rolls did not infringe the copyrights of the composers whose music was played by means of the rolls. The copyright law was eventually changed to address that unfair situation, but the copyright/technology clash has continued with the advent of video players, Napster, and CD burners.

The result is an unsatisfying patchwork of legislative action, court decisions, and lobbying on the part of writers, artists, photographers, publishers, and musicians who sometimes embrace and other times feel threatened by technological advances. Unfortunately, that means there is often no clear-cut answer to the question of what you can legally take from the Web: it depends on what you take, why you take it, who you are, and what technology you use. Among other factors, the fair-use defense of copyright infringement depends on whether or not the copying is commercial in nature or for nonprofit educational purposes, the amount and substantiality of the portion used, and the nature of the copyrighted work.

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Why Functional Programming Should Be the Future of Software Development

It’s hard to learn, but your code will produce fewer nasty surprises

11 min read
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A plate of spaghetti made from code
Shira Inbar
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You’d expectthe longest and most costly phase in the lifecycle of a software product to be the initial development of the system, when all those great features are first imagined and then created. In fact, the hardest part comes later, during the maintenance phase. That’s when programmers pay the price for the shortcuts they took during development.

So why did they take shortcuts? Maybe they didn’t realize that they were cutting any corners. Only when their code was deployed and exercised by a lot of users did its hidden flaws come to light. And maybe the developers were rushed. Time-to-market pressures would almost guarantee that their software will contain more bugs than it would otherwise.

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