Is Website Content Free for All?

Nina L. Kaufman, Esq.

Nina L. Kaufman, Esq.

An award-winning small business attorney in New York City, Nina is a sought-after professional speaker and Entrepreneur Magazine online contributor. She is the go-to counsel for knowledge economy and creative companies, delivering legal services and educational resources that save them time, money, and aggravation.

Posted on June 8, 2017 in IP & Social Media, Video/Audio

I’m often asked, “Can I freely website content I see online? After all, it is free … and easily copied.” Tempting as it is to think that “freely available” equals “can use for free,” the short answer is … no.

To play fair in the online world, you need to assume that if website content appears on somebody’s site, it belongs to them. That’s the basic rule. And if the website content belongs to someone else, you have two options:

  1. Don’t use it
  2. Ask for permission to use it.

I covered this briefly when I appeared on MSNBC’s Your Business:

There are other exceptions–like “fair use” where you use only a teeny portion of someone else’s website content–but that’s a thorny area. How much is teeny? How much is fair?  Usually, if you ask permission and give attribution, it’s a win-win for all concerned.  You get to use the website content without fear of reprisal; the content provider gets credit and a link back to their site.

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