Top Ownership of Copyrights & Copyright Protection...

Respecting Copyright protection on other web sites This notice appears at the bottom of every page:

Copyright© 1996 - 2019 All rights reserved.

We all have an idea of what that means. Nobody can copy anything from the website and claim that they wrote it. Or own it. But can they forward it to a friend? What if they say to the friend? "I got this tip from, Give it a try."

In the one case, they simply forwarded the information, but in the second, they did give credit. Did they violate our copyright in the first case? How about he second case?

Now that gets a bit unclear.

Even after this many years, Internet copyright laws are still in their infancy, and with the government attempting to control porn and spam, we can be certain of one thing: new laws and litigation will become more common than ever.

Ask a lawyer if you can copy and then claim some part of "The Godfather", and he will immediately cite a violation of the copyright laws.

But ask him if you can copy and paste something from a web page and his fuzzy opinion will probably be something like, "It depends".

The fact is that Internet and web site copyright protections are so complex, and continue to get worse, that they have become a very special branch of the practice of law.

Some sites are dedicated to supplying information, but can you copy that information? "The New York Times" is begging for online readers, but you cannot legally copy a single line from their site. Not even if you give them credit! This is buried in the fine print that nobody reads.

What you will see on such sites is a link to "email this to a friend". It's the same page, but in this manner, the advertising is retained. This is the primary reason that commercial sites have objections to a copy of their information, and then paste/sent to another person. They lose the benefit of the link, because the second person gets the information without going to the site. And that site has sponsors who pay for hits.

The sites we use as references often have sponsor arrangements, and they rely on readership for funding. A copy/paste of their information will deny them the benefit of a hit.

The "small print" on permissions and copyrights on Adobe products is quite amazing:

What about a reference that we all use: Microsoft itself?

Here are the directions to our Technicians on the site:
NOTE: If you need to copy / paste smalltext from a Microsoft Knowledge Base (MSKB) article, Microsoft requires that their copyright link be included along with the smalltext. In many cases, it's easier to just include the URL of the article instead of copying and pasting the whole thing in. Should you need it, the copyright notice can be found at:

When you have time click to that Microsoft link, and scan the copyright language. Interestingly the initial page is rather cleearly written in easy-to-understand language. However the entire document is VERY extensive. Can we expect Microsoft lawyers at our door? Not likely, any more than the "New York Time's" will send their legal teams to file suit for copying an article.

Such actions on their part is overwhelmingly expensive, bad PR, and not worth the effort.

But that does not relieve our responsibility to comply, to the best of our ability, with copyright laws. We do not want anyone to steal material, and we therefore respect the copyright laws of other sites and resources. Even with conflicting and confusing copyright laws, some common sense can guide our actions:
  • Give full credit to a source by providing the link.
  • It is acceptable to paraphrase the information from that site in your own words, but give credit to the source. (There is considerable legal precedent for paraphrasing, but do not forget the credit).
  • There it a limit as to what is a paraphrase and what is simply copying. This, however can be rather ambiguous. Just HOW MUCH needs to be the same (to avoid confusion and how much needs to be changed?
  • If you copy / paste information from a source, then provide the link, state that it is a quote, and use the appropriate quotation marks. The MSKB often has a volume of information about a problem, but only a snippet might be applicable to a particular problem. A FULL citation can often be overwhelming. Quote a small section, but indicate a quote, and give credit.
  • Be particularly sensitive to sites with advertising. They probably have some kind of sponsorship arrangement, and hits are important. Be certain to give credit and provide the link.
  • It is not necessary to even get a copyright to have ownership. A copyright only indicates a legal registration, but even without it, site owners have the same rights.
It is almost impossible to understand the legal minefield of copyright protection. But we can give the same respect for other sites that we expect for ours.