Copyright Issues on Websites

As Websites are an organic structure that regularly changes and evolves, it is important to understand the limitations and issues of Copyright for Online Business owners.

In essence, an entire Website is not copyright protected but the individual parts of the Website can fall under different copyright laws and protection. Components of a website to consider are - 

  • Content - text, compilations, articles, blogs, source code
  • Artwork - logos, graphics, charts, illustrations
  • Multimedia - video, audio, animations, music

A general rule of thumb is that if you did not create the component, you will need to obtain permission to use it. The person that created the work owns copyright to it and you either need to consult them for permission or the whomever owns the rights to it.

The only time you don't require permission is when -

  • Material is not copyright protected
  • Copyright has expired
  • You are making a reference to, or not using a 'substantial part' of the work
  • You have a special exemption

Some material is available to re-use under a Creative Commons Licence which often allows you to use material for commercial and/or non-commercial uses. Other Licences can be obtained from Industry Bodies like APRA/AMCOS or PPCA for music. In any event it is important to identify the owner of the material and ensure you have permission to use it on your website to avoid infringement.

Make sure you discuss your options when purchasing licences and gaining permissions to ensure your Online Business is issue-free. For more information on Copyright and Web Development, visit the Australian Copyright Council.