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I am creating a website that serves as a directory of companies within a niche industry. In my site I would like to provide info on each of the companies and was wondering if it was ok for me to use info from a company's about page. For example, crunchbase does something similar:

https://www.crunchbase.com/app/search/companies

If you click on one of the companies you will see a Company Details section that is sometimes a identical to the company's about page.

It is not clear to me whether this would get me into any trouble as I would be referencing the company as well. Is it ok for me to copy information from about pages?

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Yes, those pages are copyright. Copyright is automatic. Everything written is copyrighted from the moment it is written unless it has passed into the public domain or has been explicitly placed into the public domain by the copyright holder.

So, it is not okay to copy anything from anywhere ever unless it is in the public domain or your have an explicit licence to use it, except if your use of it falls under the fair use doctrine.

This is not to say that people don't scrape information from sites all the time and republish it, because they do. I suppose this is either a calculated risk or plain ignorance.

On the other hand, it is also the way the web works. Technically, the page summary on every Google search result page is a copyright violation, yet often pages create those summaries just for Google to pick up. The law has not caught up with the technology. (The whole notion of copyright is based on the right to make physical copies -- a concept that does not really fit the web.)

Could you get in trouble? Yes. Will you get in trouble? That probably comes down to a question of whether the copyright holder or one of their licensees thinks it is worthwhile to make trouble. A simple way to find out is to do the courteous thing and write to them an ask.

  • Will try and reach out to the companies. I also suppose if a company posted this information on Wikipedia, I am free to copy it under Wikipedia's terms? – user26115 Aug 4 '17 at 8:08
  • Wikipedia has a page about this: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Reusing_Wikipedia_content – user16226 Aug 4 '17 at 10:17
  • " Technically, the page summary on every Google search result page is a copyright violation" Actually, when that's taken from the description meta-tag it is most definitely used with permission – user17926 Aug 6 '17 at 20:25

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