Copyright on Web Material – Ask Permission and Acknowledge the Source

Importance of copyright on the webBrowsing LinkedIn I found an article of great interest.  The subject prompted me to Google to find more material.  It was surprising therefore to find, within the first page of Google, exactly the same material from another source.  Neither article had attribution to the other, but the article on Google did pre-date the LinkedIn item by several years.

Now I know that the web is an open system and I fully subscribe to the idea that good ideas are for sharing.   But taking someone else’s material and passing it off as yours, if this is what was going on, is going too far.

We have had instances of people doing this with material from the PR advice site  When challenged they have removed the material and in one case the offender replaced our copy with something in his own hand – but following the format, and perhaps taking inspiration, from our original text.  From the same web site we have given permission for others to use a particular checklist, providing they acknowledge the source and give a link.

There are two easy answers to this.  If you link or quote other people’s material always acknowledge the source – as we do in this blog and in the checklists.  I think that this adds real value for the originator of the material that you quote. As a copyright owner it is also worth considering offering licensed use – giving controlled consent to copy and pass-on.  The Creative Commons offer several licence models that you can consider.

Kevin Ainsworth, Partner, Ainsworth Maguire Public Relations

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