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Copyright or Copy-it-right

While researching more than 300 websites in a year, almost every one we visited had a copyright notice somewhere on the website. Technically, copyright is defined in most countries as the legal right of creator, publisher, or distributor of a work for exclusive right to distribution, or modification of the work. There is some form of copyright law in every country including Nepal. However, the extent of the law and degree of enforcement differs from a country to country.

Copyright has been an especially important issue since the popularity of the Internet. Before, if you wanted to copy anything, the creation and the distribution were difficult, expensive and dangerous. With the popularity of computers and the Internet all you need to do is copy it and paste it.

Nepal is always known as the land where there is virtually no copyright enforcement. Go to any video stores in Nepal, and you will find the latest pirated Hollywood and Bollywood movies. Go to the next shop and you will find Windows XP selling for mere three dollars. Thus, when we looked into Nepali websites, we thought we would be picking up lot of dirty secrets. However, surprisingly, we found out that almost all of the professional Nepali websites respect the copyrights of others. Virtually none of the more professional website had any material directly copied from other Nepali websites. Please note that even though the website did not copy the information directly, we found some did engage in a practice of changing/editing already published work to their website. We might as well call it "doing some research."

Interestingly some professional Nepali websites did have very obviously copyright violations. They did not copy any material from other Nepali website but from non-Nepali websites. The reason for this might be the information is available throughout the Internet in the same form and thus considered to be public domain, or simply they are just blatantly copying it. This situation takes us back to the example of the video stores in Nepal. Even though, the stores are engaged in openly renting or selling pirated foreign movie, none of them openly sold or rented pirated Nepali movies.

Whatever we saw during our review was encouraging for those of us who support a good copyright conduct. Following a copyright law is not just a moral or legal question but an economic one too. We all know that copying somebody's work might deprive that person from any economic benefits but a website that violates copyright also looses its credibility and thus ultimately looses its visitors.

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