Using Online Content – Do You Need Permission?

Lesley Ellen Harris

CKNW Radio’s Jon McComb interviewed Lesley Ellen Harris on the copyright protection of online content from images to music to crafts. What’s protected and what’s not? When do you need permission? If you use unauthorized content, will you get sued?

Bottom line of this short radio interview:

  • most online content is protected by copyright
  • always assume that online content is protected unless you know otherwise
  • if you use unauthorized content, don’t be surprised if you get an email from the content owner

Bloggers and Copyright Law

Click for interview recording on 19 November 2013, CKNW Morning News, “Bloggers Beware! You’re Breaking the Law!”

Bloggers and others can get more information on copyright law in plain English from the book Canadian Copyright Law, Fourth Edition.


  1. Lesley says:

    Hi Cheryl, there are so many copyright issues relating to self-publishing a book. In short, ideas and theories are not protected by copyright law, only the exact words (or very close words) used to express the ideas. As for quotes, generally smaller quotes do not require permission but it depends on the circumstances and how important the quote is in relation to the rest of the document it is from. You may benefit from our sister website on Canadian copyright law

  2. Cheryl Dass says:

    I am authoring and publishing a book in Canada to sell internationally.
    My copyright inquiry is as follows:
    I paraphrased two quotes (Albert Einstein and Richard Bach), and I state in the material directly that they are concepts made by them. Do I need to cite and do a bibliography for the site the quotes from, even though I did not word for word restate the quote in my material itself?

    Additionally, the first chapter argues pre-existent theories to my book’s topic. One is a theory I discovered online and not through words of others. Again I did not copy the theory word for word from the source, but paraphrased the concept into my own so I could personally address and discuss it. Do I need to cite it in my text, and include the web source into my bibliography?

    I have read that, for formal pieces, I should veer away from quoting other material unless absolutely necessary. I am sure it is a suggestion made on the basis of copyright infringements and protections. However, I do not know how far this law goes with regards to paraphrasing a quote or theory into my own words, and stating that they are suggested by others, or the actual person who did if I know the name. Additionally, if a bibliography is still required when paraphrasing in a formally authored book. I guess a concern is that 10,20,30, years down the road those cited websites (if needed) may not even exist any longer, and my sources may become void in my printed material. Your help in this final road block to my first official publication is greatly appreciated, and I thank you.

    P.S.: I am self-publishing my material which is why I do not have a formal publisher to ask these questions to. Your support service as provided herein is very helpful and admirable. Thank you in advance, and for providing such service to the public.

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