Copyright considerations for magazine/information style website

I want to create an informative magazine style website on a specialist subject which has several companies providing products or services on that subject. I want to promote the subject generally and provide a community and portal for those interested. I want to show the companies’ You Tube videos, review their products, list the companies products, provide links to their websites etc. Do I need permission to mention their Company name, show their logo, show the videos and to link to their pages – and if so, do I need to seek it everytime as I intent to continally update the content?

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Alasdair Taylor's Answer

Thanks for your question – and apologies for the delay with this answer.

Generally speaking, under English law, a website operator will not require permission to:

  • mention a selected set of companies’ names;
  • list and review the companies’ products; or
  • provide links to their websites.

There are a few exceptions to these generalisations.  For instance, unfair and damaging product reviews may be actionable in some circumstances, e.g. under the law of slander of goods or defamation.  Similarly, there are circumstances where hyperlinks can cause legal problems.

The display of the companies’ YouTube videos will be governed by the YouTube terms of service.  Although I haven’t read those terms of service recently, my understanding is that where YouTube facilitates the display of videos by making available embeddable scripts, then you are permitted to display those videos through your site, subject to the other provisions of the terms of service.

Showing company logos is a little bit different.  Generally the fair use of a company logo to refer to the company will not amount to trade mark infringement.  This is covered by Section 10(6) of the TMA 1994 says:

“Nothing in the preceding provisions of this section [which concern infringement] shall be construed as preventing the use of a registered trade mark by any person for the purpose of identifying goods or services as those of the proprietor or a licensee. But any such use otherwise than in accordance with honest practices in industrial or commercial matters shall be treated as infringing the registered trade mark if the use without due cause takes unfair advantage of, or is detrimental to, the distinctive character or repute of the trade mark.”

However, logos may also be protected by copyright, and the reproduction of a logo can amount to copyright infringement.

The scope of a permission given will determine the question of whether additional permissions are needed further down the line.

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