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Web sites and their contents are protected by copyright law. They are protected in the same way as printed material. This happens automatically.

Your copyright

  • People can copy information from your site for the purposes of non-commercial research and personal study.
  • They must acknowledge you and your site as the source.
  • They cannot reproduce your information unless they have your permission.
    (a) You may wish in your ‘Terms and conditions of use’ to specify what copyright permissions, if any, you will give to your users.

Other people’s copyright

  • You may not use any copyrighted information on your site unless you have received permission from the copyright owner.
  • Ask for their permission in writing .

Linking to other people’s Web sites from your Web site

  • Links to the home page of another Web site is acceptable. However, it is good practice to ask the organisation’s permission, in writing.
  • ‘Deep linking’, where you make a link directly to a page or resource inside a site and bypass the home page, could be interpreted as breaking that site’s copyright. It could therefore be essential to ask the organisation’s permission to do this.
  • Check the terms and conditions of a site to see if they have given people permission to link to their site, particularly to deep link.
  • If your site uses frames and a user clicks on a link, the text from that other site is automatically ‘included’ in your Web site. This ‘framing’ is clearly breaking copyright. You must always ask an organisation’s permission to do this. (a) However use of frames is also not recommended from a design viewpoint.
  • It is good practice to indicate that the user is leaving your site when they click on an external link, or to make an external link open up in a new browser window. This makes it clear to a user that the linked site is nothing to do with your site.

The “Guidelines for UK Government websites” (http://e-government.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/Resources/WebGuidelines/fs/en) [Opens in new browser window], “Section 1.10 Legal issues”, discusses copyright and gives suggestions for terms and conditions that can be placed on Web sites.

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