Ann Rubin of Afghans for Afghans wrote in to say, per my Blog from last week, that she's very interested in scanning in print versions of newspaper stories that have been written about her site because many newspapers delete or charge for older stories. Linking to the story isn't an option anymore.
However, she asked, "If we scan the newspaper article and post it on a Web page on our site, do we need to get permission from the newspaper? Wouldn't we otherwise be violating copyright?"
Yes, yes, yes. Such a good point! In fact you've got to watch copyright in three ways:
1. Ask permission before you re-use a story from any online or ezine publisher. This means you can't copy and paste a story from someone's site or email newsletter without explicit permission. No, the fact that a publication includes a "forward to a friend" offer does not mean you can cut and paste, or otherwise take a story out of context. You have to follow the publisher's forwarding instructions so the rest of their content (such as copyright line, URL and possibly ads) are included as they want them to be.
2. Ask permission before you scan in a print story for your site. Or before you reprint a Web page or email newsletter for mass distribution. For example, you can't have 250 copies made of a Web story about your company to hand out at your trade show booth if you haven't asked the publisher first. There may often be a cost associated with it, plus the publisher generally wants to control what the story looks like (what kind of paper, placement of their logo, etc.) because it directly affects their brand.
3. Ask permission before you use any company, brand, Web site's or publication's logo or branded packaging on your site. (So many Webmasters forget this!) Most companies want complete control over where their logo appears. Many major brands will actually threaten you with legal action if you put their logo on your site, even if you did so in a positive manner. Yes, this includes magazines and newspapers.
If you get a mention in, say, BusinessWeek, that doesn't mean you can stick either the BusinessWeek cover or logo on your site unless you ask first. Some marketers get around that by using a logo-sort-of-look-alike. That can be dangerous too. Be careful, why risk upsetting the media you rely on to promote you?
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