Rhetoric and Composition/Utility

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Utility[edit]

While surfing the Internet, and it may not be readily apparent, but the best information is that which is useful and serves a purpose. The purposes of various web documents range over the broad spectrum of human communication. These texts might be trying to amuse, to sell something, to establish a dialogue, to inform or educate, to make some sort of artistic statement, or any number of other goals. Those sites and documents which lack utility therefore are less visited, less supported, and as a result less linked and more frequently disconnected.

Information which is not useful will most often have decreasing sense of purpose, and as a result readers and content will become lost. A useful Internet page or document is one which not only persists, but is also regularly updated and contains recent or new material. Good sites and documents will also utilize archiving systems to record data and design, and also to track the changes made to that data over time. Organizing, cataloguing, archiving and disseminating useful information allow readers/users to find a text later, and also to see the connections within and between sources. In addition, web content has been deemed as intellectual property, so there are also issues of permission to use information and possible copyright infringement which must be considered.

Purpose, Relevance and Exigency[edit]

Use of Archives[edit]

Copyright[edit]

Copyright law is about protecting intellectual property. Only the words are protected, however, not the ideas. The author of an original work automatically has the copyright to that work the moment it is “fixed in a tangible medium” [1]. You don’t have to register it. This is true in the United States, Canada, and other countries that are part of the Berne Convention [2]. Even though you don’t have to register a copyright, there are several benefits to registering it. The work must be registered in order to file a claim of infringement. If the work is registered within five years of publication, that establishes prima facie evidence of the copyright’s validity. This means an infringer has to prove your copyright’s lack of validity; you don’t have to prove that it is valid [3]. Registering a copyright is easy and relatively inexpensive. Forms and instructions are available on the copyright office website: http://www.loc.gov/copyright/ [4].

Web writing can be copyrighted, but it’s a complex and rapidly changing area of law. For example, if you sell an article to a print publisher, they acquire the electronic rights to it in perpetuity. There seems to be disagreement among students of copyright law as to how much protection is necessary. Killian on the one hand, says that on the Internet, copying is easy and copyright enforcement is difficult [5]. On the other hand, Litman warns that the entertainment and information industries continue to lobby congress for “draconian” controls of copyrighted material [6]. Kilian also warns that you need to be careful not to violate someone else’s copyright. If you’re pasting someone else’s web published document into your own, it’s best to get written permission from the copyright holders (even for a graphic) [7].

Kilian [8] offers a list of helpful sites about copyright:

Especially in the digital world, many people may not know that works may be copyrighted. To try to prevent “ignorant infringement,” Hoffman suggests placing a copyright notice on every page. Use any of these options:

  • © Your name, date
  • Copyright Your Name, Date
  • Copr. Your Name, Date [9].

You can also put your personal mark on every page, which shoes up as a watermark if someone tries to download, print, or copy the page [10]. You can get software for this purpose [11].

External[edit]

References[edit]

  1. Kilian, Crawford. Writing for the Web: Writer’s Edition. North Vancouver: Self-Counsel Press, 2001. Print. P. 119
  2. Hoffman, Gretchen. Copyright in Cyberspace: Questions and Answers for Librarians. New York: Neal-Schumann Publishers, Inc., 2001. Print. p. 245
  3. Hoffman, p. 245
  4. Hoffman, p. 246
  5. Killian, p. 120
  6. Litman, Jessica. Digital Copyright. Amherst: Prometheus Books, 2006. Print. p. 202
  7. Kilian, p. 120
  8. Kilian, p. 120
  9. Hoffman, p. 246
  10. Hoffman, p. 247
  11. Bonime, Andrew, Pohlmann, Ken C. Writing for New Media. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1998. Print. p. 174

External Links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. Kilian, Crawford. Writing for the Web: Writer’s Edition. North Vancouver: Self-Counsel Press, 2001. Print. P. 119
  2. Hoffman, Gretchen. Copyright in Cyberspace: Questions and Answers for Librarians. New York: Neal-Schumann Publishers, Inc., 2001. Print. p. 245
  3. Hoffman, p. 245
  4. Hoffman, p. 246
  5. Killian, p. 120
  6. Litman, Jessica. Digital Copyright. Amherst: Prometheus Books, 2006. Print. p. 202
  7. Kilian, p. 120
  8. Kilian, p. 120
  9. Hoffman, p. 246
  10. Hoffman, p. 247
  11. Bonime, Andrew, Pohlmann, Ken C. Writing for New Media. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1998. Print. p. 174