From an early age, we are taught that we should share with other people. Whether it is toys or time, we become better people if we share our talents and treasures. With the proliferation of the internet and online digital technologies, sharing has never been easier; however, it is not with out consequences.
Photographs, stories, videos, and articles are just a sampling of the various types of content out there that many of us put on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Google Buzz, and MySpace. But are we free to just post such content? We have free speech to say what we want under the First Amendment, right?
Not so fast. While we are certainly free to post anything that is originally created by us, we can’t place other peoples’ content online without their permission. For example, if we see an article that we like, we cannot copy it in its entirety and place it in our blog. We also can’t copy it in its entirety and email it to our distribution list. We need the author or copyright owner’s permission in order to do so (unless the article falls within the parameters of the Fair Use Doctrine, but that's for another post)
So what about those "Share" buttons we see neatly arranged at the beginning or end of an article? So long as we are sharing a link (URL) to a particular article, citing the source of the article, and letting the person(s) to whom you are sharing know where you found the article, you can continue to enjoy spreading the news without worrying about a claim that you are infringing on someone else’s work.
All in all, we can still share online as Mom originally taught us. We just want to share responsibly, so we can avoid unpleasant consequences under copyright law.
Are you a blogger? A lot of people like to add a photograph to their blog post and will grab an image off of Google Images or other search engines. This is actually Copyright Infringement. The images found on a search engine are not owned by the search engine and therefore they cannot grant you permission to use the image. The copyright lies with the creator (or any person/company who has bought the image from the photographer). The moment a photograph is created the image automatically becomes the copyrighted property of the photographer. In order to use photographs that you do not own, you must gain the permission of the images creator. This is an absolute if you are using the image or content in products for resale, license or other distribution. Even if you are using an image for purposes such a blog, e-newsletter or website, you still must have permission from the author to use the content. What if I credit the source? Crediting the source is a step in the right direction, but you still should always ask for permission or purchase the content before use. Some photographers do not mind and even love the exposure, and others, well, they want their royalties.
**From Google's Permissions web page
Google Logo and Screenshot Permissions:
" You don’t need our permission when you want to use a standard, unaltered Google screenshot (an image of our homepage or search results page) in either print (book, magazine, journal, newspaper) or digital (web page, DVD, CD) formats for an instructive or illustrative purpose. Examples include screenshots of:
• a Google search results page
• search results indicating where sponsored links are
• an Advanced Search page
• search results for a query you show
This use must be unaltered: You can’t superimpose graphics, photos, or ad copy on the screenshot or change the look of the screen-captured image in any other way.
Please note that using a screenshot of a Google search results page in connection with advertising your products or services (for instance, showing a top ranking on Google) is not considered instructive or illustrative, and therefore is not permitted."