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WPI Copyright Policy and Guidance: Website Content

Website Copyright Policies

  • Websites have varying policies regarding the use of their content, so you need to carefully check the policies for each website.
  • Although you might see that the website and all its content are copyrighted, you will also want to read that website's terms of use in order to see if there are any circumstances where they DO allow use of their content.
  • In general, check the bottom of the web page for the "fine" print. It might say "copyright," "legal," "terms of use," "web policies," or similar terminology. 
  • If you are working with the website of a project's sponsor, be sure to obtain written permission from them for the use of any content from their website, if required.

Examples of Website Copyright Policies

Example of a Website Where Permissions are REQUIRED for Use of its Content:

Here is the City of London's copyright and use policy from their website: (scroll down to Section 5: Copyright and Linking Policy).

Copyright and Linking Policy for the City of London Website:

5.1 The Website belongs in all respects to the City of London.

5.2 All intellectual property rights including copyright, Database Right, First Publication Rights, patents, Registered Trade Marks, know-how, intellectual or industrial property rights including format, art direction, look and feel of the Website and its content subsisting throughout the World shall vest in the City of London.

5.3 Users may not modify, copy, distribute, transmit, display, reproduce, publish, licence or create derivative works from data or other content found on the Website or sell any information or images obtained from the Website. Users may download information or images for private non-commercial viewing purposes only, unless permitted.

 Although your WPI project (IQP report, MQP report, or GPS poster) is non-commercial, your e-project will be freely available to all users on the Internet rather than be solely for "private use," therefore you would then be required to ask permission to use material from this website in your project.



Example of a Website Where Permissions are NOT REQUIRED for Use of its Content:

Here is the US Department of Energy's copyright and use policy from their website:

Copyright, Restrictions and Permissions Notice from the Department of Energy's Website:

Government information at DOE Web sites is in the public domain. Public domain information may be freely distributed and copied, but it is requested that in any subsequent use the Department of Energy be given appropriate acknowledgement.

Images on our web site which are in the public domain may be used without permission. If you use images from our web site, we ask that you credit us as the source. Please note that some images on our site may have been obtained from other organizations. Permission to use these images should be obtained directly from those organizations.

"Public Domain" is a term that means  a work is NOT under copyright and may be used in any way that you would like. Keep in mind that U.S federal government websitse may have an occasional work displayed from a third party who is NOT a government employee and WILL be under copyright. The copyright holder's name will usually appear beneath the image and may or may not display the world "copyright."

A United States government work is one prepared by an employee of the United States government as part of that person's official duties. It is not subject to copyright in the United States and there are no copyright restrictions on reproduction, derivative works, distribution, performance, or display of the work.  Exceptions include:

  • You cannot use U.S. government trademarks or the logos of U.S. government agencies without permission.
  • You cannot use a U.S. government work in a way that implies endorsement by a U.S. government agency, official, or employee. 
  • Works prepared for the U.S. government by independent contractors may be protected by copyright, which may be owned by the independent contractor or by the U.S. government.
  • The U.S. government work designation does not apply to works of U.S. state and local governments.



Example of a U.S. Federal Government Website where copyright permission IS REQUIRED from a Third Party:

National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration Website (NOAA) - Titanic photograph

Because this photo of the Titanic is under copyright to photographer from National Geographic Magazine, it is NOT free to use. Permission would have to be obtained from the copyright holder, who is listed directly beneath the photograph. Other NOAA content NOT displaying a specific copyright is in the Public Domain and is free to use.

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