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Ulysses101, Lawyer
Category: Canada Law
Satisfied Customers: 3478
Experience:  11 years experience in Canada family law, plus criminal, civil, and employment
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I'm launching a new website where we build websites /

Customer Question

I'm launching a new website where we build websites / customize templates – The issue is, We do not currently have a portfolio of our own work to show. My question is, as it pertains to the law – Are we able to display screenshots of other peoples websites (Work that is not our own, for example use?) Understandably, this is a bit of a loophole, but if the websites being shown are explicitly stated as being for example / sample use only is this something that we can do under fair use or another law? I don't see it as an issue as long as we are in fact able to produce work that is similar to the example websites that we are showing. We will also include that each item on the website is property and copyright of the respective owner.
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Canada Law
Expert:  Ulysses101 replied 11 months ago.

Hello, thank you for the question.

You are correct, the work of other websites done for commercial purposes is almost certainly under copyright.

If you can get their permission to use images of their work, then go ahead and use it.

But it's not "fair use" to use the copyrighted work of others to advertise your own commercial enterprise, especially when that enterprise is to very possibly compete with the copyright holders.

It's very possible that the site owners hold the copyright, that it was transferred from the designers to their employer or contractor. But even then, if the owner stands nothing to gain then why would they agree?

Why not do some free designs for a charity? You'd get your name out and have your own legitimate work to put into a portfolio.

Anyway, you could do as you have suggested but you're leaving yourself wide open for a lawsuit.

Anything else to discuss? If not, may I have a positive service rating please?

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
I definitely see your point, but is there no loop hole in saying that the websites shown are for example use only and we do not claim ownership of said works, and that the screenshots used, and websites shown are property of their respective owners? I understand that this would be the case if we're claiming the work as our own, but we are not. – We're giving credit to the owners. The issue we have currently is that we need to be able to show a wide range of different website styles from events, restaurants, corporate etc. You see nothing that can be done here?
Customer: replied 11 months ago. I've attached a screenshot so that you can see what we're thinking.
Expert:  Ulysses101 replied 11 months ago.

Giving credit to the owners doesn't allow for the use of the image that they own.

If I'm Warner Brother's, I can't put Mickey Mouse on a poster for my latest movie with a disclaimer at the bottom.

In the example you sent, you haven't credited the owner/creator. As well, you're using their logos on their sites without their permission, another potential reason for you to be sued. You can't ride on the coat tails for another's work done for site owners who aren't your customers. And if you do so, you're advertising them and not you.

Make your own for your own advertising, seriously.

Expert:  Ulysses101 replied 11 months ago.

Anything else about this to discuss?

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Inline linking: Inline linking involves placing a line of HTML on your site that so that your webpage displays content directly from another site. We now commonly refer to this practice as embedding. For example, many bloggers embed videos from YouTube on their blogs to illustrate a point or initiate discussion. While there is some uncertainty on this point, a recent case from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that inline linking does not directly infringe copyright because no copy is made on the site providing the link; the link is just HTML code pointing to the image or other material. See Perfect 10, Inc. v. Google, Inc., 508 F.3d 1146 (2007). Other courts may or may not follow this reasoning. However, the Ninth Circuit's decision is consistent with the majority of copyright linking cases which have found that linking, whether simple, deep, or inline, does not give rise to liability for copyright infringement. For discussion of these cases, see The Internet Law Treatise. In addition, merely using an inline link should not create trademark liability, unless you do something affirmative to create the impression that you are somehow affiliated with or endorsed by the site to which you are linking. Thus, embedding media in your online work should not expose you to legal liability, with the possible exceptions discussed below.
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
I'm still not entirely sure that you're 100% on what I'm trying to accomplish. Your example about "If I'm Warner Brother's, I can't put Mickey Mouse on a poster for my latest movie with a disclaimer at the bottom." of course makes perfect sense, however that isn't what we're trying to achieve. We don't want to rip off the work of others, or infringe copyright.We simply want to find a way to be able to show examples of websites that exist in the world for the purpose of showing our customers what CAN be done in the same vein as other websites that exist, however the websites we are using as examples, we are not stating that these websites are our own, and are explicitly stating that they are for example use only.a. We are not claiming the work as our own, or marketing directly such as placing mickey mouse a registered trademark of Warner bro's on a poster for direct advertising purposes
b. We're ensuring that there is a copyright statement on the website stating that thumbnails & examples are copyright of their respective owners, and that we do not claim ownership of them.
c. It's simply a thumbnail image of their website, and a link.I'm not sure if this adds any clarification, and yes i realize this is a grey area subject, but that's why I'm here, to find a way to make this possible.
Expert:  Ulysses101 replied 11 months ago.

I'm back to the site after being away for over a week. I'm sorry that I didn't get back to you. I thought that the site would reassign my unanswered question threads, but it seems that the site assumed that if anyone wanted a new expert they'd "opt out".

You, we can continue discussing this if you wish. Or you can "opt out" and see if another expert will pick up the thread. Or you can ask the site for your deposit back (if you're not on a subscription), I could ask them for you if you wish.


How would you like to proceed?

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