Whether blogging, creating website content or engaging in social media marketing, you have to play by the rules. Technology makes it easy to copy, alter and share information, no matter what form it takes. Understanding the Copyright Law that affects those words, however, can be a bit more complicated.
Here are some Dos and Don’ts that will clarify what you can and cannot do as an online publisher.
Use material under public domain. It’s free. Works aren’t restricted by copyright and don’t require a license or fee to use.
Quote something interesting. Short quotation scan be used for criticism, commentary or news reporting are “fair use” as long as it includes a small portion of the work.
Use materials not subject to copyright. They include names, familiar symbols, short phrases, titles and slogans. Some may be trademark protected.
Use a company name or logo if you’re talking about it. Trademarks protect a company from someone trying to use its name or logo to deceive customers. If you’re critiquing or evaluating a company, however, you can use its name or logo under a “nominative fair use.”
Use a company name on your domain. This right applies to domain names. You can use a company’s name as long as you aren’t trying to deceive people that you speak on behalf of the company or are related to it in any way.
Assume if you credit the author there’s no copyright infringement. You can only use copyrighted material if you have the author’s permission or make fair use of it.
Copy material because there’s no copyright message. In 1978, Copyright Law abolished the requirement for copyright notice. That meant every published work (paper or digital) automatically gets copyright protection, with or without a notice.
Copy material simply because you’re not making a commercial use. Commercial use per se isn’t a requirement for copyright infringement. Even if you’re not making a commercial use, you’re still infringing the law if you don’t have the author’s permission.
Assume it’s okay if you remove the copyrighted material. Removing copyrighted material doesn’t remove the copyright infringement.
Copy material simply because you can’t find a copyright holder: Just because you can’t identify a copyright holder doesn’t mean the material can be freely copied.
Want to learn more about copyright law? Check out some of these books.
This article wasn’t written by a legal professional and doesn’t intend to constitute legal advice.