Any sort of creative work -- such as written text, a photograph, or a
piece of music -- belongs exclusively to the person who created it.
An author's ownership of the work is known as copyright.
However, it is generally accepted that small bits of a copyrighted
piece can be used by other people in other works without explicit
permission. This principle is known in the US as "fair use".
Google Answers researchers make use of 'fair use' all the time. We
would never reproduce the text of an entire website in one of our
answers, nor would we make use of substantial chunks of text. But we
do very often make use of small excerpts where a quote from a site
provides information that is pertinent to the answer.
Here's an example of a question I answered not that long ago that
makes use of numerous small excerpts from the links provided:
Q: Looking for papers on remarriage in old age
Note that there are only a few sentences from any given link, and the
source for the excerpt is ALWAYS provided...this is simply expected in
any research document.
'Fair use' is tricky...there is no golden rule to tell you how much of
a site is okay to excerpt, and how much is too much.
For researchers, though, there are a number of sites that provide a
good discussion of fair use, and some good guidelines as how to to
stay on the safe side. Here are some of the sites that I find
especially valuable on this topic:
When Copying Is Okay: The "Fair Use" Rule
FAIR USE OF COPYRIGHTED MATERIALS
Disagreements Over Fair Use: When Are You Likely to Get Sued?
The bottom line for fair use boils down to this:
--use only small excerpts of a work (these can be words, images,
sounds, video, etc)
--cite the source used
--don't do anything that might be considered as interfering with the
ability of the original author to earn income from their work
There is never a guarantee that the original author won't take offense
at your use of an excerpt and file a complaint. But this is a rare
occurence, and keeping to modest excerpts should keep things on the
safe side. As I said earlier, the researchers at Google Answers have
made countless uses of small excertps from other web sites, and I am
not aware that these have ever developed into any sort of siginificant
challenge over copyright.
As for the particular examples you gave in your question, they both
seem okay as long as the materials taken from other sites are kept to
a reasonable minimum. It also helps quite a bit if the email you are
sending is to be seen by only a single person, rather than broadcast
to thousands or millions of recipients.
As I said above, always include a reference to any excerpted works, if
for no other reason that to prevent charges of plagarism.
You also asked specifically about videos, and said that you thought of making a:
"...camtasia video (screen capture video) and answered the persons
question by taking them via video to the website I found the answer on
and showing it to them while I read it."
I must say, I didn't fully understand the scenario you were
describing, so feel free to re-phrase it if there's still something in
particular you want to know about videos. But in general, the same
principle of fair use applies to videos as to any other creative works
that are protected by copyright.
I trust this information fully answers your question. But if there's
anything else I can do for you, just let me know by posting a Request
for Clarification and I'm at your service.
search strategy -- Used bookmark sites for copyright and fair use.