Copyright · Content

Policies Around Including Other's Site Content on Your Site

Aleksandra Czajka Freelance Senior Software Engineer, Developer, Web Developer, Programmer - Full Stack

September 11th, 2013

Hi Friends!


Do any of you know about the policies around including other's site content on your own site?


I have the site https://VideoInterviewPractice.com and wanted to include a bunch of interview questions from Ask.com and About.com. Wondering what the legality of this is.


Thanks in advance!

Michael Brill Technology startup exec focused on AI-driven products

September 11th, 2013

I think this topic was covered about a month ago in another FD thread. I just spent a fair bit of time looking at this and after a bunch of reading a cease-and-desist, my conclusion:

* High probability that the site's license will prohibit you from using the content the way you want.
* US courts have generally ruled that site's license isn't enforceable because it's not reasonable to expect that the user has actually read it all
* US courts have flip-flopped on hot-linking (where you embed content such that it looks like it's on your site but is actually hosted elsewhere). The last flop was a more permissive ruling that allows folks like Google to display thumbnail images as long as they don't host the content. My understanding is that the EU is much more protective of content owners' rights and hot-linking is just as bad as hosting content.
* None of this really matters because you're not going to fight Ask.com or About.com because they have much more money than you and will bury you with legal costs.
* So I'd suggest trying to figure out how you can make it good for them (e.g., provide their branding and show how it'll drive traffic back to their site) and either (a) get their explicit permission or (b) have a plan B when their lawyers come knocking. 

Luis Avila Owner/Fullstack Architect at IdeaNerd LLC

September 11th, 2013

Not sure about copying the content directly but I'm sure you can link to it. After all, that is the point of the World Wide Web and links. Examples... HuffPo links to other articles. LinkedIn News links to other articles from a user's home page.

You could take the HuffPo approach and generate your own content and then link to other related content. In that scenario you are are the author of your work and are only referencing other works.

Just a thought.

Michael Brill Technology startup exec focused on AI-driven products

September 11th, 2013

Paul, I think there's some expectation that you would read terms of an agreement where you executed a financial transaction. But even then I'm sure you can make a compelling argument that it's not reasonable for you to read a long document filled with legalese and that very important term should have been more prominent. OTOH, if their no refund clause is industry-standard then your argument is weaker. Having said that, I've found banks generally side with their customers and will charge back the merchant if you have any reasonable argument at all (e.g., point them to vague language on the site that misrepresented their offering). I've been on the merchant side of charge backs and I've seen some pretty flimsy arguments prevail.

Kevin Findlay Interim Web, Mobile and E-Commerce Leader

September 11th, 2013

I had a bit of a look into this area and have the following perspective:
   1.  As the guys above have all mentioned it is different by geography. However I think there are some attempts to unify things at an EU level.
   2. In the UK - with respect to small amounts of content - snippets of information are OK. This is what google does.
   3. In the UK/EU - I think - theoretically if you store data from another database (websites are frontends to databases), then that is theoretically illegal. However I have never heard of google getting into trouble for doing it!
   4. Pictures are more copyright protected than documents. With documents you are allowed to take a bit of the text as a quote etc. Pictures are a no-no.

Nikhil Bhardwaj Entrepreneur | Tech Advisor | Web Architect

September 11th, 2013

I can't talk about legal issues but from SEO's perspective, at least to the extent you are in good books of Google and not seen as a web scrapper, the rough guideline is: 
  1. OK to copy a text snippet (around 150 words) but you need to provide attribution (the original webpage) and the link should be a normal link (as against a no-follow link)
  2. If any single page has tons of  content taken from many websites then that page should have robot meta tags "noindex follow" which tells Google that the links (internal and external) on that page are interesting but there is not much original content on that page so Google should not index it to be returned in the search results. 
  3. If you want Google to index your pages containing text from external sites, then you should have your own original content on top of referenced content and your content should be much more than the cited content.  A great way of doing it is to provide your own insights / evaluation. After all  that's the whole point of web. 
My 2 3 cents. :)  
Nikhil

Duane Nickull Chief Marketing Officer, Co-Founder at Cheddar Labs

September 11th, 2013

I doubt anyone can answer this question with a blanket statement.   I am not a lawyer and even if I was, I would be in one jurisdiction.  You are literally asking about websites with content in dozens of different countries, each with their own laws.

The best place to look is at each website's legal statement or license.  It is always better to have permission. For photos etc, I use Creative Commons as a way to search by license.

Good luck.

Duane Nickull

Paul Travis Multifaceted Online Executor: Product Marketing to Program Mgmt. to Business Development

September 11th, 2013

Interesting points, Michael.

I've been thinking just the opposite with regard to licensing terms -- after calling my bank to challenge a charge from a site.  They looked at the terms of service and said they were unable to help me (basically, a buried clause says "no refunds").

Aleksandra Czajka Freelance Senior Software Engineer, Developer, Web Developer, Programmer - Full Stack

September 12th, 2013

Thank you all for the feedback and advice. I really appreciated it. 

What I decided to do is contact About.com directly and ask them what they would be happy with. If they say NO to me including their interview questions on my site and linking to their logo, etc., I will create a database of my own questions. No biggie, but, I think it just would be very useful to have a collection of interview question from all over the web since the work has already been done by others. I was thinking that it would resemble what Indeed.com does with jobs.

All my best and thank you again!

Paul Travis Multifaceted Online Executor: Product Marketing to Program Mgmt. to Business Development

September 11th, 2013

Agreed -- this was a new one for me. In my adult life, I hadn't ever experienced the bank not backing me up.