Copyrighted materials: Assume that materials you find on the Web are copyrighted unless a disclaimer or waiver is expressly stated. You should not place any copyrighted works on your Web page without the express permission of the copyright owner. If you want to include something from another Web page in one of your Web pages, link to it rather than copy it.
Quotations: You may include quotations of a few words, provided you identify the author and the work from which the quotation is taken.
Licensed materials: Materials licensed to MIT by their owner -- for example, Dilbert cartoons, Encyclo-paedia Britannica entries, or articles from The Washington Post -- are restricted to use within MIT. No one has the right to place these materials on Web pages or redistribute them.
Original materials: If you plan to hire a writer, designer or photographer to create material for your Web site, have them sign a contract assigning you copyright of the material, or at least spelling out your rights to its use. You can get sample contracts from the Office of Intellectual Property Counsel in Rm NE25-230.
Pictures and video: Don't place any pictures or videos of people on a Web page without the permission of the people in the image. Every person has a right of privacy which includes some right to restrict certain uses of his or her own image. In addition, the picture or video will most likely be protected by copyright.
Photographs: If someone provides you with a photograph, find out if that person has the rights to it. For example, a portrait may be the physical property of the subject, but the copyright may be owned by the photographer.
Works in the public domain: To avoid the effort involved in tracking down copyrights and getting permissions, or the expense of paying for original work, you can use material from the public domain. For more information about works in the public domain, see http://www.benedict.com/webiss.htm#public.
This article by Robyn Fizz is excerpted from the July/August 1997 issue of i/s.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on January 14, 1998.