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Copyright on the Web

By Dale Reagan | April 30, 2010

©: Can you use content (text, images, other media) from other sites on the web, i.e. copy the content into your web page, blog post or other web resource?

** In very general terms you should only use your own content on your web site(s).  When using content from other resources you need to limit your use and provide adequate references to the original source(s).  In this case (the body of information below) I am including an email message from a government entity.  I am preceding the email with the Copyright Permission statement from the source (most sites will include both a terms of use/service (TOS) and a privacy statement (web pages) – you should review such statements prior to using content from any source (web or otherwise…)

Copyright Permission (from
You are permitted to reproduce and distribute documents on [the] web site in whole or in part, without changing the text you use, provided that you include the copyright statement or “produced by” statement and use the document for noncommercial or internal purposes. For commercial use or translations, send your email request to

Email message from CERT:

Date: Wed, 28 Apr 2010 12:38:56 -0400

From: US-CERT Security Tips <>
Subject: US-CERT Cyber Security Tip ST05-004 — Avoiding Copyright Infringement

Cyber Security Tip ST05-004
Avoiding Copyright Infringement

Although copyright may seem to be a purely legal issue, using unauthorized
files could have security implications. To avoid prosecution and minimize
the risks to your computer, make sure you have permission to use any
copyrighted information, and only download authorized files.

How does copyright infringement apply to the internet?

Copyright infringement occurs when you use or distribute information without
permission from the person or organization that owns the legal rights to the
Including an image or cartoon on your website or in a document,
illegally downloading music, and pirating software are all common copyright
While these activities may seem harmless, they could have
serious legal and security implications.

How do you know if you have permission to use something?

If you find something on a website that you would like to use (e.g., a
document, a chart, an application), search for information about permissions
to use, download, redistribute, or reproduce. Most websites have a “terms of
page that explains how you are allowed to use information from the site
(see US-CERT’s terms of use for an example). You can often find a link to
this page in the site’s contact information or privacy policy, or at the
bottom of the page that contains the information you are interested in

There may be restrictions based on the purpose, method, and audience. You
may also have to adhere to specific conditions about how much information
you are allowed to use or how the information is presented and attributed.
If you can’t locate the terms of use, or if it seems unclear, contact the
individual or organization that holds the copyright to ask permission.

What consequences could you face?

* Prosecution – When you illegally download, reproduce, or distribute
information, you risk legal action. Penalties may range from warnings
and mandatory removal of all references to costly fines. Depending on
the severity of the crime, jail time may also be a possibility. To
offset their own court costs and the money they feel they lose because
of pirated software, vendors may increase the prices of their products.
* Infection – Attackers could take advantage of sites or networks that
offer  unauthorized  downloads  (music, movies, software, etc.) by
including code into the files that would infect your computer once it
was installed (see Understanding Hidden Threats: Corrupted Software
Files and Understanding Hidden Threats: Rootkits and Botnets for more
information). Because you wouldn’t know the source or identity of the
infection (or maybe that it was even there), you might not be able to
easily identify or remove it. Pirated software with hidden Trojan horses
is often advertised as discounted software in spam email messages (see
Why  is  Cyber  Security  a  Problem?  and  Reducing Spam for more


* U.S. Copyright Office – <>
* Copyright on the Internet – <>
Author: Mindi McDowell
Produced 2005 by US-CERT, a government organization.
Note: This tip was previously published and is being re-distributed to increase awareness.

Terms of use

This document can also be found at:

** The information on this page or from the links referenced on this page should not be taken as legal advice – consult your IP (intellectual property) attorney for legal advice.

Topics: Business Blogging, Media and Communications, System and Network Security | Comments Off on Copyright on the Web

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