Almost everything you find in print or media is protected by copyright law. This means you cannot reproduce the author’s work without their permission. When in doubt if a work is protected, seek out the author or owner’s permission. Very old works, such as Shakespearean plays, are no longer copyrighted and you may freely reproduce these works for the most part. Remember, photographs, music, even emails are protected by copyright law. Some works explicitly donated to the public domain may be reproduced. However, don’t ever assume a work is part of the public domain.

You have the right to express your own words, but you must be careful when you reproduce the works of others. Under fair use exemptions, you may be able to reproduce a work in part if you are creating a parody, commentary or research/educational report on the subject. The fair use exemption is very narrow though, and if you run a commercial website, you run the very high risk of violating someone’s copyright, regardless of your intentions. Just keep in mind that you can freely express your own opinions and ideas, but you cannot reproduce somebody else’s without their permission. When in doubt, don’t reproduce the work and find a way to express it in your own words.

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