Can I use pictures and information posted to a public site for profit?

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Can I use pictures and information posted to a public site for profit?

I’d like to compile information and pictures from a dating website into a
consumer product. If other people voluntarily send me the information, and I’m
not the one copying it, just the person who compiles it, am I liable? I see other
websites posting the images from the dating website, where they make profits from
advertisements.

Asked on April 1, 2016 under Business Law, Ohio

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Just because something is publically viewable on a website does NOT make it public domain: the pictures and other information will still almost certainly be owned by the website and/or by the contributors who provided it in the first place. And someone is liable for copyright infringement if they compile or publish copyrighted material, even if they are not the ones who copied it. Only if the material are specifically placed in the public domain--made legally available for anyone's use--could it be used this way safely; if it is public domain, there will generally be some notice of that, so in the absence of notice, assume it is copyrighted and protected.


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