10 common—and crucial—copyright questions for communicators

Grabbing an image, piece of text or other element for your website or blog without permission is not OK, even if you give credit to its creator. An attorney explains the essentials of ‘fair use.’

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As an attorney, I frequently am asked legal questions by my friends.

Of particular concern among marketers and PR professionals are copyright and fair use, because those concepts apply to content marketing strategy.

People regularly ask some variation of the same 10 questions, so I’m going to answer them here:

1. Can I use someone else’s content (text, image, video, music) on my website if I give them credit?

Not unless they’ve given you written permission to use their material or you’re willing to spend the money to present a ” fair use” defense if the creator sues you for copyright infringement. (It’s nearly impossible to know in advance whether the court will ultimately find that your use was “fair.”)

2. What if I’m not making any money off my blog? Can I use someone else’s content then?

No. Using someone else’s work without permission is still copyright infringement, whether you make money from it or not. It might, however, influence whether what you did is considered “fair use” by a court, or how much money the court awards in damages.

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