Use of beer labels on website = copyright infringement?

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  • Hello. I have been considering developing an interactive flash website that would compare different costs of beer, and would like to use cropped images of beer bottles with labels on the site. Would showing these images of labels constitute copyright infringement if the site earned money through advertising? Any help is greatly appreciated!
  • Hello lowrider2072005

    The scenario you are describing suggests that you could be infringing on copyright protection covering the labels, which often contain colorful or artful images, graphics, etc. So you need to evaluate whether the specifics of your use fall within the provision of Fair Use. Copyright law requires that a potential Fair User evaluate the proposed use according to four factors and then make a reasoned decision.

    More information about making a Fair Use evaluation can be found at the following sites:

    US Copyright Office - Fair Use

    Fair Use Checklist (Columbia University)
  • It seems like with copyright, as GClement mentions, this might indeed fall under fair use, much as search engines reproduce thumbnails in image searches. But wouldn't the beer bottles often have large, noticeable, names and logos which might be trademarked? I think that this one might be more of a trademark issue.

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