We sort of answered this question in our previous blog on “Can I use pictures from the Internet“. Again the short answer is NO unless you have permission from the website or business you’re copying text from or unless the material is clearly marked as not being copyright protected.
With the vast array of material and information that is at our fingertips now through the Internet, we don’t often stop to think that the material on the Internet enjoys the same copyright protection as if it was a printed book or magazine, a DVD or a CD, etc.
The negative side of this if you are searching for original content (see our blog “Where do I find original content“) you can’t just copy and paste from another website. You need permission and/or you need to acknowledge the source of the material you have copied (like you would do a citation when are writing a report for University, Newspaper, Magazine, etc.).
However, the positive aspect is that when you do create your own original content, the content (text, pictures, multi-media, etc.) are copyright protected. To be doubly sure that you are protected, you need to put a copyright protection statement on the footer of each of your web pages (such as “Copyright 2013 by your company name”) and also put copyright statements into your privacy and terms and conditions pages on your website. Furthermore, pictures on your website can also be copy protected by imbedding tags and codes into the photo that identify the owner and copyright status of the photo (these are called EXIF tags). Additionally, you can put a watermark in the photo with your copyright notice.
Multi-media files can be protected using DRM (Digital Rights Management).
So, respect the work and effort others have done to create original content on their website and don’t copy and paste something onto your website without getting permission or making sure you site your source. Personally speaking, suppliers and others are generally most agreeable to you using their content as long as you use a reciprocal link (a link that points to their website in a citation for example).
But, if you are still unclear of what you can or can’t do or if you need help then don’t hesitate to contact the folk at Rapidpage who can assist you with ensuring your website and content are copyright protected.