It is a common misconception that if something has been posted online, it is in the public domain and may be copied, reposted, extracted, commented on and used freely.
No! This is not the case. In fact, this is wrong.
If you copy material off the internet without permission, you are very likely infringing the rights of the Copyright owner.
Common breaches include:
- Reposting a picture or photo you found that you like on Facebook or Pinterest
- Commenting on an article you reposted to your site
- Reposting an email sent by someone else, etc.
And here are some common misbeliefs:
- If you link back to the original material, author and their site, then its OK
- The site and author get free advertising from you and since they gain a ‘benefit’, its fine
- If I am not getting financial gain as a result of my reposting, its not a violation, etc.
Some people think if there is no Copyright notice, it is not protected and you can freely use the material. This is not correct. If you are not the original author, it does not belong to you and you cannot use it without permission.
There is a “fair dealing” exception in the legislation (s41 Copyright Act 1968) which permits, for example, comments and short quotations to be used for what is termed in the legislation “fair use”. This includes certain requirements including making no profit from any re-use, attribution back to the author and full title of the work being posted.
Even Google is checking your website Terms and Conditions …
Even Google is beginning to penalize websites that post Copyrighted material or use other people’s material without permission. They have notified on their official blog (8 Oct 2012) that they are now penalizing sites that are reportedly posting Copyrighted material without permission.
This is and will become a bigger issue with the growth of the internet and more and more businesses and individuals trying to protect their work, ideas, photographs and material.
To be safe, check with the owner of the site that you are copying the material from and ensure you obtain their written permission. Also ensure you provide a link back and attribution to the author and their material.
Protect your own material and your website by ensuring you have a clear Copyright statement in your Terms and Conditions.