Can I post aricles I find on the web on my website without breaking copyright laws?

QUESTION:

I’m starting a website business on pet care.  I need to be able to use articles on my site as customer/visitor information on pet health, etc.  My only source for these articles would be the web, but I’m not sure how copyright or plagiarism applies if I use articles that I search for and put them on my site.  Any information on this would be very helpful.  Thanks!

ANSWER:

Naomi Kokubo

Naomi Kokubo

by Naomi Kokubo, Cofounder of Founders Space

You can place links on your site to public articles on other websites.   The links can contain a title, and often a brief description is fine.  But you cannot post the articles on your site.  This is a violation of copyright law, and you would be infringing on the copyright owners’ intellectual property.   Do people post articles from other people’s websites on their own sites?   Yes, but they are opening themselves up to legal action.

If you see an article or series of articles that you want to post on your website, you need to locate the copyright owner and ask for their explicit permission in writing.  Often you will have to pay a licensing fee for the privilege of using the article.  Finding the copyright owners can be tricky. Sometimes it’s the website owner, but often it’s someone else, either the author of the article or the original publisher of the article.  You have to be careful to make sure you are talking to the legitimate copyright owner.

Also, sometimes there is more than one owner.  The copyright could be shared by multiple authors and/or a publisher.  So you need to make sure everyone has given you permission.   When in doubt, you should error on the cautious side and not use the article.

I would recommend finding a publisher or two with a lot of articles that you need, and doing a comprehensive deal for the entire batch.  You’ll probably have to pay, but it’s often less expensive and time consuming than either writing your own articles or hiring writers.

Good luck, and I hope this helps!

Comments & Advice:
  1. Jbokor says:

    Steve, you can't post the entire article on your site without permission without running the risk of a copyright violation. There are some exceptions but I doubt that you would be able to use any of them in the case you've described. Feel free to give me a call to discuss – it would be great to catch up.

    Jonathan Bokor

  2. Dharrsch says:

    You can't post the articles on your site without infringing on copy write laws unless you have the publishers permission or pay for the PDF; HOWEVER, you can write a short abstract or just the title and provide a link to those articles. This would help you become a reference site for people doing research. It would also be a good starting point for a blog.

  3. Raj Gavurla Raj says:

    On the web there are articles that have bylines by professional speakers who are experts. As long as you include the COMPLETE byline your ok. This does not include articles from publications on the web (i.e. Entrepreneur etc.).

    Good sites are ezinearticles.com, articlesbase.com, selfgrowth.com

  4. Andy says:

    Wow, I really appreciate everyone's response. It's nice to know that there is help for people just starting out from others who have the knowledge that we may not.
    Thank-you

  5. Good advice here (particularly from non-lawyers!). I would add that the amount you can excerpt from any given article without being liable for copyright infringement falls within a legal gray area called the Fair Use Doctrine. It's worth reading up on this to make sure you understand the rules of the road. Stanford maintains an excellent website at http://fairuse.stanford.edu that serves as a great education on fair use.

    As a practical matter, if you aren't prepared to enter into licensing deals for entire articles, I would recommend excerpting no more than the title and a few sentences from any particular article, giving full credit to the site where the article appears with a live permalink (something like “Read the Full Article on OtherSite.com“). Needless to say, you should steer clear of any articles that appear behind a pay wall (i.e., on a paid subscription site).

  6. Lisa Green says:

    You can post articles on your site if they are under a Creative Commons license. CC licenses were designed to give content creators the ability better share their work. Using a CC license, you can waive some of the rights by copyright but still reserve some.

    There is a lot of content on the web that is under CC licenses. For instance, all Wikipedia content is under a CC license, many blogs and many photos on Flickr are also under a CC license.

    http://creativecommons.org/licenses/

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  16. Leah says:

    What if the article was written about you? ie – newspaper. A local newspaper published an article about the surgeon I work for with his picture, etc. Do I still need to get permission to use this article from the newspaper?

  17. bdinfo says:

    Thanks for your post. But during writing article from any particular topics, I need to take help from online resources and it become impossible to find 100% unique one. So is their any harm if few parts of the articles got copied from others.

  18. Writer says:

    Yes, you can post an entire news article word for word although, most would rather have option to click the link with a title & tiny info of what it is.

    How can you post entire or parts of a news article? BY GIVING SOURCES and FULL CREDIT to those responsible for it to start with. With a link, you can just post it saying AP or CNN news link yet I’d still be careful making sure credit is given. There are SOME news areas where if you read, it says it cannot be redistributed.

    Does anyone here think Drugereport or Drudgeretort come up with all that news themselves? NO. The do copy/paste to news! CNN does the same thing as does Fox when it might be from associated press or another source so yes you can but as a writer, I’d not be happy if someone took my work then tried to take credit for it so always give credit & unless you write an article yourself, say who did if publishing it or parts of it rather than just a link to it.

    Hope that helps but beware, chances of you making any money or a living at it are like becoming a major film Star to think of it as a fun thing since few make money at it.

  19. You can as long as you give proper credit to the author of the content.

  20. qammar says:

    In short, it is a matter of copyright, if it is CC (creative common) licence, you may republish it on your website with proper credit to the copyright owner. For example, all articles on our website are under CC, so you can republish them with a link back to original article. Otherwise you should ask the copyright owner.

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