Whether you’re starting a blog for your company, or launching the next Pulitzer Prize-winning news website, having a strong understanding of copyright rules is crucial. A surprising number of publishers still believe that copying content from other websites and republishing it on theirs without the express permission of the original creator is completely acceptable, so long as they “give credit”, either with a link back to the original post or a note detailing where the content was originally published.

The short answer to the question of whether it is permissible to copy and paste content without permission is, of course, no. Doing so could be an infringement of the content owner’s copyright, and lead to legal action or post-licensing claims – both costly outcomes worth avoiding. 

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There are a number of ways, however, you can legally reuse someone else’s content on your website without infringing on their copyright and ending up on the wrong side of the law. First and foremost amongst them is content licensing, which is a simple and legal way of republishing content which is not originally yours. 

Content licensing is a part of every publisher’s editorial process, whether they are aware of it or not. Every time you purchase an image from Shutterstock or Getty, you are licensing that image for reuse on your own website (taking someone else’s image from Google Images and giving “credit” is still stealing!). 

While more people are aware of image licensing, fewer understand that articles themselves can be licensed as well. SyndiGate’s content marketplace platform, DISCO, is a great place to find full-text articles available for licensing and republishing – sign up for free here, and explore the millions of articles on offer. 

By licensing the republishing rights from the original publisher, and abiding by their brand guidelines (which often require that you display their copyright notice and, in some cases, a link back to the original article), you can be certain that the content you are using is not going to land you in trouble. 

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For the most part, content licensing comes with a cost – a licensing fee payable to the original publisher or rights holder. The amount you pay will vary depending on the publisher (high profile publishers understandably charge more than smaller publishers), the content format, and the exact rights you require. 

However, there are some cases where you are able to republish content for free, without needing to purchase a license.  

Some publishers allow their content to be reused in certain circumstances via a Creative Commons license which, depending on the exact license, gives other publishers the right to copy and paste the content without paying a fee. A good example of this is The Conversation, which allows a large percentage of its articles to be republished with a Creative Commons license.

Another thing to look out for is content published in the Public Domain. Most images published by US Government bodies, for example, The White House, are in the public domain, meaning they can be used without the purchase of a license. 

The key thing to remember is that you should always use caution before copying an article, image, or video and republishing it on your website. Check whether the content is Creative Commons, Public Domain, or otherwise clearly tagged as free to use, and when in doubt, check out licensed content options via a platform like DISCO.