Guidelines regarding copyrighted materials

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I am new to the field of web development, and I need your advice. I am thinking of creating some blogs using popular tools like WP and the like, and fill them with useful content.
I am a bit concerned about the non-textual part of the content, because I will necessarily need to "borrow and use" some copyrighted materials from other sources.

Could you please provide some simple guidelines with regard to the re-use of such (non-authorized) materials -- especially images such as non-trademarked logos or background images?

I am concerned about having my websites shut down because of some copyright violation. To be clear, the materials that I intend to re-use would not be the centerpiece of my website -- only a side dish, as it were (it's not like I take images from another website's photo gallery and I use them for a gallery on my website).
I am willing to take some risk, knowing that it would be too difficult to stay 100% on the right side of the copyright laws, but I need some indications about what is "reasonably safe" (i.e. tolerated to some extent).

Two related questions come to my mind:
1) if the copyrighted materials I use for my webpages are NOT hosted on my main website (but on another website owned by me, which I use as a media store), and I just link to them from my webpages, will my main website still risk being shut down because of copyright violations?
2) if a copyrighted picture is cropped or edited in some way, will it still retain its copyrighted status?

Any related advice is very much welcome, especially practical advice and examples from real-life cases.

Thanks to all.
#copyrighted #guidelines #materials
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  • Profile picture of the author Dennis Gaskill
    First, you need to understand that asking for legal advice on a forum means you'll get answers that put you at legal risk if you follow the wrong advice.

    I'm not an attorney, but I have researched copyright issues. That doesn't ensure my answers to your questions are correct. It just means the answers are based on my (non-legally trained) understanding of copyright law. In other words, I'm not just guessing, but I could still be wrong.

    Now to your questions:

    1) Hosting the images on a secondary site still puts the website where the images are used at risk. It also may put the site where the images are hosted at risk.

    2) Cropping or editing an image creates a derivative work. The copyright to a derivative work belongs to the original copyright holder.

    You have three options that won't put you at risk:

    1) Create your own images.

    2) Get permission from the copyright holder to use their image.

    3) Buy a clipart package from a legitimate vendor or buy images from an image site like

    You have two more options that reduce your risk:

    4) Hire someone to create images for you.

    5) Use public domain images from a site like Wikimedia Commons.

    With those latter two options the risk is that the person you hire, or the person who uploaded the images as public domain, did not hold the copyrights to begin with.

    Just when you think you've got it all figured out, someone changes the rules.

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  • Profile picture of the author Herb Nazhe
    Thanks for your precious advice, Dennis.
    One more question: are copyright laws strictly enforced on low-profile (amateur) blogs?
    In other words, what are the actual chances of getting into trouble?
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  • Chances are high that when you steal someone's information, even giving them attribution, the person will be pissed.

    I have reported sites to their hosting companies; one site got taken down. Most often my post gets taken down, which looks bad for the company because now they have a blemish on their hosting PLUS people maybe clicking a link that came out in a newsletter and now is a 404 page.

    In the late 1990's, when I was part of the pioneers of article marketing, we put our articles on websites and in yahoogroups where we gave anyone permission to use them for free, with attribution. There are a few sites like that left. Ezine Universe might be one of them.

    But today, I rather someone ask permission first and get it in writing from me (in an email). However, I reserve the right to say "no". Which I also do at times.

    Maria Marsala,
    Financial Advisors Coach, Author, Speaker at

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