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There are many reasons why you and your business may want to use or repurpose duplicate content from another business or organisation’s website. This may involve text, quotes,  images or video. Maybe your business operates a news feed that amalgamates different content, a review website, or potentially there is an article or video that you would love to share on your own website. This article sets out rules that apply when you use content from other businesses’ websites, including copyright, trade marks and terms of use. 

Understanding Website Copyright Rules

A copyright is a type of intellectual property (IP) protection that protects the original expression of particular facts or ideas. Therefore in most cases, copyright laws will protect original content on another person or business’ website. This could be any kind of content – photographs, infographics, descriptions or video. In general, copying this content without the other company’s permission means you may be infringing their copyright. 

The first step if you want to use content from another company’s website is to reach out to them and get their permission, in writing. Many companies will appreciate the additional exposure or even the thought that goes into your email and sign off on the use of their content. 

Alternatively, there is a type of exception to copyright protections commonly termed the “fair dealing” or “fair use” exception. Essentially, this exception lets you use any copyrighted content without their consent if it is for a ‘fair’ purpose. New Zealand copyright law defines “fair use” quite specifically. You may qualify for this kind of exception when you are using content for the purposes of:

  • criticism;
  • review;
  • news reporting;
  • research; or 
  • private study.

However, even if your use of the content falls into these categories, your use of the work must still be “fair”, and you must also acknowledge the author and source of the copyrighted work.

Understanding Website Trade Mark Rules

A trade mark is another form of intellectual property that businesses can use to distinguish their products or services from other businesses. Businesses use trade mark registrations to protect their brands. Hence, you should be wary of this when looking to use content from another business’ website. That business may have trade mark protection over their name, slogan, logo or a particular image. Even if a trade mark is not formally registered, a business may still have unregistered ‘common law’ rights in a trade mark. You should generally avoid using businesses’ trade marks whether registered or not.

Understanding Website Terms of Use

A website’s terms of use set out the rules for anyone who goes on their website. It typically covers how people can use their website, legal disclaimers, and rules around what conduct is allowed and what is prohibited. Usually, one of the most critical clauses in a website’s terms of use relates to how users can use their content.

It is quite common for users to be generally prohibited from copying any content from that business’ website without their consent. Consequently, you should seek that business’ consent when they have made clear in their website terms of use that anyone seeking to use their content must do so. Otherwise, you may be in breach of that website’s terms of use.

Minimising Risk When Using Content From Other Businesses

There are a few ways that you can minimise the risk of any legal or other consequences when using another business’ website content.  These include: 

  1. asking for permission to use content from other websites, as discussed above. They may say yes straightaway or otherwise offer to put an agreement into writing through a content licensing agreement
  2. describing on your website the nature of your relationship with any other business whose content you are sharing; and
  3. having policies to make sure any information you publish about another business or their products or services is accurate.

Key Takeaways

In some cases, you may be able to use content from other business’ websites in New Zealand. The best way to do this is to get consent from the business in question. Otherwise, the content may be shielded by IP protections like copyright or trade marks, which you should not infringe. However, depending on the purposes for which you want to use the content, you may be able to get a “fair use” exception to any copyright protections on the content you are interested in.

If you have any further questions about using content from other business’ websites, contact LegalVision’s IP lawyers on 0800 005 570 or complete the form on this page.


What is the “fair-use” exception?

The “fair-use” exception lets you use copyrighted content without the owner’s consent if that use is for a ‘fair’ purpose. These purposes include criticism, review, news reporting, research or private study.

How can I protect the content on my website from being used by others?

As well as standard protections for your work such as copyright and trade marks, you should make sure that you have a clear and specific set of terms of use for your website. If you do not want your content to be used by others without your permission, this can be clarified and stated clearly in your terms of use.

Can website content be protected by trade mark registrations?

Yes, in many cases it can. A trade mark can protect a business’ name, image, slogan or other parts of their brand; and most businesses will feature these on their website.

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