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Copyright Resources: Web Publishing

Best Practices

Policy Section X. Web Publishing

The Web makes published information more abundant and more easily accessible to more people. However, easy access to the information does not mean that the information is in the public domain or is available without limitations. The guidelines for using text, photos, images, and music covered in the previous sections directly apply to website uses, even if copyright notification is not readily visible. You must assume any information published on the web is covered by either copyright or trademark law unless conclusive information indicates otherwise.

If you create a website and wish to post copyrighted material on it, you must obtain the permission of the copyright holder, just as you would for more traditional media, unless fair use or another exception applies. In the case of content on University pages which include cnu.edu in the URL, fair use is unlikely to apply given the visibility of the website. The best course of action is to obtain permission from the copyright holder or use copyright free alternatives to images and music. Lists of options for copyright free material may be found on the CNU Copyright Resources page.

A. Linking and Framing

Simply posting a link to another site, even one containing copyrighted material should not be an issue since you are not publishing the material yourself. Linking directly to someone else’s publication is preferred since downloading and publishing the material directly on your site violates a copyright owner’s right to distribution. Be cautious not to provide a link to a site that you have reason to believe is violating copyright law. An example of such site is one that allows free downloading of copyrighted material that is clearly a violation of copyright law.

Before linking, it is important to check the Terms of Use of the site to ensure there are no specific requirements or restrictions concerning linking. These terms should be adhered to unless you seek permission to depart from them. You may find restrictions such as “the link should not suggest any association, approval, or endorsement” on the part of the site you are linking to. When you construct a link, be sure that it simply sends the user to another site. If you actually bring the material onto your own site, or “frame” it, you may be infringing copyright and may also mislead users as to the source of the content. If content from web page A is embedded or added to a web page B via framing or inlining, the content of web page A is still owned by the original author.

If you copy the content that you could be embedding, framing or inlining in such a way that when the original owner removes the content from their site it doesn't make it disappear from your site, you have crossed the line.

B. Web Coding

Format coding, such as HTML and CSS (cascade style sheet), and code in programming languages used to create websites, such as JAVA and PHP, are also protected by copyright. Only the author of the code has the right to copy it. In order to use a snippet of code from someone else’s web page to reproduce a design element on another page, permission must be obtained from the creator of the original code on the site. The copyright owner may not be an individual, but the company for which the site was constructed.

An alternative to creating code for web pages is to use templates, either freely available or provided under a license agreement.

C. Downloading and File Sharing

Sharing or downloading copyrighted files without permission over the University network is illegal and a violation of University policy. Despite the ease with which electronic files of copyrighted works may be uploaded or downloaded from the web, copyright laws still apply. Downloading or sharing a copyrighted document, song, image, movie, or software for free without the permission of the copyright holder violates copyright law. Downloading material to your computer is making an electronic copy and sharing a file is considered distribution. Reproduction and distribution of a copyrighted work without permission of the copyright owner constitutes copyright infringement.

Exceptions apply if a website specifically gives permission to download, the material is in the public domain, you access material through a database licensed by the library that allows downloading or printing of the material, or the material is covered by fair use. Fair use exceptions are usually limited to a single copy downloaded for your personal, educational use (See Section III.C.: Fair Use).

The preferred method of sharing material not owned by you is to link directly to the materials (See Section X.A.: Web Publishing: Linking and Framing) made legally available on either sites/databases licensed by the University or on the copyright holder’s site. It is not acceptable to download a copy and then redistribute through your website unless this is specifically allowed.

Trible Library provides links to other websites to aid in research and is not responsible for the content or privacy policy of those sites.