The Motley Fool

7. Treat Copyright Right

It breaks our Rules — and more importantly, breaks the law — to copy onto our discussion boards anything that you don’t have permission to copy. If it doesn’t explicitly say that you may copy something, you should assume that you can’t.

It’s true that you can copy a small part of something if it counts as “fair dealing” or “fair use” – but, as the UK Intellectual Property Office points out:

“There is no strict definition of what this means but it has been interpreted by the courts on a number of occasions by looking at the economic impact on the copyright owner of the use. Where the economic impact is not significant, the use may count as fair dealing.”

“So, it may be within the scope of ‘fair dealing’ to make single [photo]copies of short extracts of a copyright work for non-commercial research or private study, criticism or review, or reporting current events.”

See the IPO page on Fair Dealing.

The matter is complicated, however, by the fact that there is no acceptable percentage specified anywhere for what counts as “fair dealing”.

Contributors may summarize an article and quote an occasional sentence or two, but not the entire thing. Sometimes a press release from a company may be posted in its entirety, but not if it has been obtained via a licensed/commercial news service, such as RNS.

When using quotes or extracts, since there is no percentage that can be safely applied, each case must be viewed on its own merit, and (in cases that have gone to court) it’s very clear that it is the perceived importance of the copied content, rather than simply the quantity, that counts. So, depending on the original material, even a very small amount might constitute a breach of copyright.

Since the Web enables linking direct to original content, it’s safest to avoid copying anything at all, really, and to just provide a link, together with a summary in your own words highlighting why you think people should read the original. So – if in doubt, link!

We won’t tolerate anyone copying our content without permission, and we must insist that posters respect other people’s work. And anyone who persists in flouting copyright may find their registration suspended or cancelled.

There’s a lot more information on copyright – what it is, what it applies to, etc – on the UK Intellectual Property Office website and also on the UK Copyright Service website.