Google Answers Logo
View Question
Q: What are the legalities of quoting websites via text or video or any medium? ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: What are the legalities of quoting websites via text or video or any medium?
Category: Reference, Education and News > Teaching and Research
Asked by: uggieman-ga
List Price: $19.50
Posted: 05 Aug 2006 19:57 PDT
Expires: 04 Sep 2006 19:57 PDT
Question ID: 753004
My Question is this:

What are the legalities (I know this will not be legal advice but give
the best you can) of quoting text from a website that you do not own
on your website (or audio, video, any medium really) and you list them
as the source of the info.

Here are two examples:

Say I want to answer a question for someone via email (or audio,
video, etc.)and I tell them the answer I found through my own research
and at the bottom of my info with the answer I list the resource of my
research (is that called a bibliography?) does this make it legal for
me to quote a website if I reference the data from there website
without them knowing?

Also, another example would be if I made 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 presume this would be safer legally.

Thank you,

Subject: Re: What are the legalities of quoting websites via text or video or any medium?
Answered By: pafalafa-ga on 05 Aug 2006 20:50 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars

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
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.
uggieman-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $5.00
Great Job!

Subject: Re: What are the legalities of quoting websites via text or video or any medium?
From: creativesoftworx-ga on 27 Aug 2006 05:32 PDT
We found your answer to be very well phrased.  We sell a <a
href="">screen capture tool</a> and
often have potential customers asking, can the software capture from
[Name a Media Player Application or Software DVD Player Here].  The
answer is usually a defensive "Yes, but you might not have the right
to do that..."  I think your answer is much better, so maybe we will
point people to your answer instead.

We had already somewhat thought of this and put the following into the EULA:
This software is designed to help you capture, edit, create and
document  (?USE?) material in which you own the copyright, which you
have permission from the applicable copyright holder or which there is
no copyright.  This EULA grants you no rights to USE materials owned
by other copyright holders.  USING materials owned by other copyright
holders without their permission may be a violation of copyright laws
and may subject you to payment of damages and/or other remedies.  In
you are uncertain about your rights you should contact your legal

Thank You
Creative Softworx, Inc.

Important Disclaimer: Answers and comments provided on Google Answers are general information, and are not intended to substitute for informed professional medical, psychiatric, psychological, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice. Google does not endorse, and expressly disclaims liability for any product, manufacturer, distributor, service or service provider mentioned or any opinion expressed in answers or comments. Please read carefully the Google Answers Terms of Service.

If you feel that you have found inappropriate content, please let us know by emailing us at with the question ID listed above. Thank you.
Search Google Answers for
Google Answers  

Google Home - Answers FAQ - Terms of Service - Privacy Policy