Is copying entire articles on my own website fair use?


DISCLAIMER: What follows is a reformatted version of some things I posted in a Facebook discussion on this topic. I am publishing it here because it is a general interest question, for which it is important to find an answer online as simple and short as possible. I believe that what follows is also correct, but please do understand that I am not a lawyer and that, in any case, copyright law is not exactly the same in all countries (yet). So don’t bet the farm on what’s written here. If you think there are errors and have authoritative sources to prove it, you are encouraged to add corrections and details in the comments. Thank you in advance for any feedback!

Is copying entire articles on my website fair use?

In general: it depends on whether those articles are under copyright or not, and if yes, on how those articles are licensed. Works already in the public domain are OK to copy. Copying works published with Creative Commons licenses should also be OK, maybe with certain restrictions (for example, you may copy for noncommercial uses, but not to make money): check the Creative Commons website to know more.

Therefore, the rest of this page only applies to articles protected by copyright and published with “All Rights Reserved” (which is the default case, at least for stuff published in the last decades). When discussing those works, “fair use” means being legally entitled by law, without asking permission to the copyright holder, to use them in certain ways.

So, this friend of mine said more or less that he could copy whole “All Rights Reserved” articles from other websites on his own blog because: “copying one whole, but single page it’s surely fair use, because I’m not copying the whole website. Besides, mine it’s a non-commercial website”. For what it’s worth (see disclaimer above) after a bit of extra research for another article, I’m pretty sure that it isn’t fair use instead. Or at least that it won’t be considered fair use in many courts which in practice, unfortunately, it’s almost the same thing. The reasons why I think so are that:

  1. when newspapers reprint single articles from other outlets they explicitly write that they got permission whenever the original license was “All Rights Reserved” (why would they do it if they could claim fair use?)
  2. I see “All Rights Reserved” printed below every single article in several newspapers, which I think is done also, if not specifically, to remind that it’s not fair use to reprint a whole article.
  3. (this one may only be valid in Italy, but seriously I doubt it) the answers from the Italian lawyers that I collected in a copyright guide for school and families already quoted mean that copying single whole articles isn’t fair use
  4. These other resources, written by professionals, say the same thing:

Finally, please note that, as far as this question is concerned, in the “All Rights Reserved” case, copying for commercial or non-commercial use doesn’t make any difference.

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