One of the most visible rights that the author of a work has, is the copyright over his work. Almost everything that is published on the World-Wide Web is copyrighted. In general, a work is copyrighted when it is created, and it is not necessary to apply for copyright. Some countries may, however, give extra protection to works that are registered. In any case, when a work is copyrighted, others may not use or redistribute the work without the permission of the author. This permission is typically called a license for the work.
For Web designers, it is important to know under what circumstances someone else's work may be used in their own work. For example, images in public archives are often copyrighted, so it is necessary to find out about the licensing conditions first. This type of use is very straight-forward and does not differ much from the situation in the real world: when you write a book, a newspaper or a Website, you always need permission to use someone else's work in yours. However, the new technology on the Web has created many possibilities which were never foreseen by copyright law.
More information on patents, copyright, trademarks and other Internet-related law is available on Iusmentis.com.