I understand this has been answered already, but I think it is important to note the issue of copyright. It would behoove any would-be forum operator and website owner to learn about copyright. It is so misunderstood and I find it incredible that so many Internet mavens believe anything they find on the WWW is theirs for the taking.

Many people don't realize that just about everything you see written or otherwise created (including any kind of artwork) is copyrighted work, even if there is no copyright symbol or text attached. Copyright is such an important issue to authors and artists that it is international law. Although it may be true that it is a difficult law to enforce, it is very similar to going to the store and pilfering a candy bar or a steak for dinner. Don't be an Internet shoplifter.

Asking permission to use an article or image is not difficult, but it does take a little time. Some people are so anxious to share their unique finds that they just don't want to take the time to email the copyright owner and ask permission. I have done so many times and find that most requests are not only honored, but responded to very quickly. Being first with the information is not so important to me. I enjoy being able to help my fellow forumites and my forum members too, but not at the expense of my credibility.

Can't get a reply to your request? Maybe you just need to draw attention to an issue without quoting a whole article. This is what's known as fair use and many times can be accomplished without hard feelings from the copyright owner. Taking these few steps will allow you to provide important information to your readers and at the same time, give credit to the owner and the author (sometimes the owner of the copyright is not always the author):
  • Post the article's title, author and date the article was written.
  • Post the website location of the article, including the site name and a link to the website.
  • Post an excerpt of the article, which is just a few sentences or a maybe a single paragraph from the article.
  • Use the phrase, "read more about this here" or "click here for the full article" and make it a direct link to the article.
  • Make additional comments about the article or the topic that makes your post your own instead of just a copy of something from another site.
There will be a few who may object, but I have found that using only small portions of a work and giving proper credit (typing their name isn't enough) and links turns you into a credible and responsible reporter of important information.

Everyone wants to be a hero. Be a humble hero and honor the hard work and the talent that goes into creating the works you admire so much you want to share them with others.

For more information on copyright, please visit these sites:
10 Big Myths About Copyright
What Is Copyright Protection
U.S. Copyright Office
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World Intellectual Property Organization

Best R'gards,

Jim McClain