Message board question/violations?

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  • Can anyone shed light on whether it is a copyright violation if you copy and post a story found on Yahoo from the AP, or from an online newspaper, and post it on a message board that discusses the topic in the article? As in there's an interesting article on dog breeding and it is copied and pasted to the dog message board for discussion and comment. Thanks.
  • Hi, Howard.

    Good question. My non-legal opinion is that whoever posted the article should have thought twice about posting it on an online discussion board. Even though the article seems to be freely available on the Internet, it is owned and licensed by someone. Chances are there is (or was) a notice at the end of it, like “Copyright © 2006, The Associated Press.” It may seem that if an article is online there is implied permission for it to be reproduced, altered, or distributed. Yet these rights still belong to the copyright holder even though the material is in a digital format.

    Briefly, there are a few alternatives.

    1. You can include limited quotes from an article in online discussion posts. This is covered by fair use because you intend to use the article for comment (rather than financial gain); you would only include small portions of the article; the article is factual (not creative); and referencing snippets of the article would probably not interfere with the newspaper’s potential revenue from selling the article.

    2. You could also link directly to an article from the discussion board, provided there is a persistent link to it. This is a nifty go-around that does not interfere with copyright. By linking, you would be letting readers know that an article exists and where to find it. You would not be reproducing, distributing, or altering someone else’s work.

    Other opinions?


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