Ask SPLC: Can I use copyrighted material as long as I credit the source?

Q.  Can I use copyrighted material (online or otherwise) as long as I properly credit the source?

A.  Simply giving credit (for example, “Photo courtesy of The New York Times”) usually isn’t enough. Unless you can make a fair use argument or unless you’re certain that material is not protected by copyright (for example, works created by the federal government and older works whose copyright have expired are not protected) you must first obtain permission — preferably in writing — from the copyright owner (which may or may not be the owner of the website on which you found the material.) Of course, once you obtain permission, good journalism also demands that you accurately credit the source.  

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