There is a chance that if a website owner uses links improperly, he may face legal consequences. The most common reason why is copyright. Many images, videos, music pieces, texts, are protected by copyright, and it is one of the most common legal traps many website owners fall into. Although many people think that not everything should be copyrighted, unfortunately for them, it is. So, what are some of the best ways to avoid legal issues when linking to other websites and other pieces of online media, and what are some basic principles you have to follow? All of that we are going to explore right here, right now! So, let’s begin!
Use text links
One of the best ways to protect yourself from copyright infringement issues is to only link text links. Yes, it would be best if you could link to “deeper” parts of a website, as it would clarify what you are writing about, but this can be potentially dangerous. Sure, if you know the site you are linking from, you shouldn’t run into any legal issues. However, even then you should be careful.
Let’s take our website linkdepartment.com as an example. In most cases (almost always) you can link to a homepage. But if you want to go “deeper”, you may face legal issues.
Text links almost never lead to copyright issues. However, if you are not sure about that, or if you want to link “deeper” content, the best option would be to contact the owner of the site and ask for permission. Many times they will not answer anything, and in this case, you better not link from them at all. However, when they get back to you, in most cases they will allow you to share their links.
Also, if you know someone who has been sharing content from the website in question, take their advice. Moreover, a quick Google search should give you the answer but you should never trust those answers wholeheartedly.
Your other option is to put disclaimers. When you are linking from another website, you need to make sure that it is clear that the site you are linking from is not associated with yours in any shape or form. This is usually a good legal defense, as many court rulings have been in a favor of a website that puts disclaimers.
Of course, asking for permission is far better than using disclaimers, but it is a good way to do things if you cannot get permission for some reason. People most often practice this when they cannot reach the owner of the site they are linking from.
Pictures from other websites
Media like pictures and images from other websites are among the most protected on the internet. Google and other search engines have scary good bots that recognize pictures. This technology is being improved every day. By ignoring this, you will be playing with fire.
Make sure to never use pictures you are not sure about. Many images, graphics, pictures, and similar media have copyright protection, and if you really need to use one, make sure to get in touch with a website owner. If you don’t get a permit, or if they don’t get back at you, don’t use those pictures. No disclaimer will help you with that.
If you don’t have your own images you want to use to improve your content, make sure to use stock images from sites like Pixabay and Pexels. They are free to use, even for commercial purposes. However, it is always better to use images of your own, as they help with SEO much more than free stock images.
Videos, when it comes to legal rights, are almost in no way different than pictures. In some ways using someone else’s video is even worse. And it is far worse than using backlinks. By using only a small part of a video, you are putting yourself in a dangerous situation that can cost you your website. First of all, make sure to have a permit from a website owner. If you don’t get it – don’t use it.
Second, just like images, there are plenty of good websites that have videos without any copyright, so make sure to use stock videos for your content. Even just using a sound from the video in question can lead to serious copyright infringement. We don’t like it too, but it is how it is.
So, what is the best course of action?
The best way to avoid any legal trouble is not to use any content or links that you don’t have a permit for. Also, it would be best if you have a network of contacts with which you can exchange your links and content. Of course, if you are critiquing someone’s art or a scientific paper, you can link to it as much as you want, if you are using it for analysis or critique. However, when it comes to commercial use, the lines are a little bit blurry. Remember, this is not legal advice, and the best course of action is to have a legal expert with you at all times.
Also, disclaimers should get you enough legal protection and make your case stronger. But if you don’t want to fight any legal battles, make sure to never use them. Yes, we know, that can seriously reduce the scope of your content. And it is a shame why this hasn’t been fixed.
The best way to avoid legal issues when linking to other websites and using someone else’s content is to hire someone on sites. Someone like Fiverr can make you a piece of original music, videos, or images. If you don’t want to spend money on that, do it yourself. Or use stock content that has no copyright protection. Also, some artistic creating have expired content, but you have to check that out.