Five quick tips to ease your copyright worries

Emily Goodhand - @copyrightgirl - shares her top copyright tips.

1.  Think before you click! Much of the content on the Internet will automatically be protected by copyright unless explicitly stated otherwise - look for a licence, terms and conditions of use or an email address to ask for permission. If you are confident that your use falls under an exception to copyright, then you can use the work provided you acknowledge the author. Consult your country's Copyright Act for ways you can use content.

2.  Always make sure you know the provenance of your website's images - one charity had to pay £10,000 in a UK court for infringing copyright in a professional photographer's images.  Never use images on your website for marketing or business purposes that you did not create - always make sure you use them under a licence or ask for permission.

3.  Adding or emailing a hyperlink to a website is not considered an infringement of copyright. However - there are several cases in court at the moment which are looking at the use of hyperlinks. Sending links to newspaper websites in the course of business without a licence is considered a breach of newspaper publishers' terms and conditions. Check with the publishers and collecting societies first.

4.  Extracting and re-using content from a database for commercial purposes without a licence infringes the database right. A database can be as simple as a collection of names and dates.

5.  When you are asked to sign up to services such as social networks, make sure you take a look at the terms and conditions. These specify how the service will use the content you upload. A recent victim of over-reaching terms and conditions was Instagram; they tried to claim ownership to their users' images, but hastily changed their terms after public outrage. 

Emily Goodhand is Copyright and Compliance Officer at the University of Reading.  She runs workshops and gives talks and presentations on copyright, rights management and licensing .   She is vice-chair of the Libraries & Archives Copyright Alliance.  Follow Emily on Twitter @copyrightgirl.