Your website is the organization’s front door to your community and the world beyond. A nonprofit’s website can be easily viewed—and content easily taken—thus it is important to pay attention to how you use others’ content and how you protect your own content.


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Use of non-original content

You should obtain permission for any non-original content used on your website and always give credit to the owner. When creating your website, remember you cannot clip information from another website and post to your own without risking infringing that third party content. Even if you pay for stock art or clipart, commercial use may be excluded in the fine print associated with your license to use. While there are some exceptions for use by nonprofits that could qualify as “fair use” under the Copyright Act, use by a nonprofit corporation is often considered commercial use. Additional details on fair use are available on the U.S. Copyright Office webpage – More Information on Fair Use.

Photo release

Having a signed release for any photograph of a person used on your nonprofit’s website as well as for any description or story associated with a particular individual is considered best practice. If your organization ever receives a complaint from someone regarding use of their image or likeness, remove the image or likeness immediately with your apology.

Terms of use

If you accept third party posts or content, consider a “terms of use” page in addition to a privacy policy. Including a copyright notice at the bottom of your website’s homepage is a good idea. While including a copyright notice is not a legal requirement, this step might act as a deterrent against copying your nonprofit’s website and content contained thereon. The copyright notice can be in most any form, and the general format is as follows: “© Name, date. All rights reserved.”

Whether on the “terms of use” page or at the bottom of the homepage, another good practice is to include a trademark attribution line somewhere on your nonprofit’s website. You should list unregistered trademarks as “____________ is a trademark of Company A.” Federally registered trademarks are listed as “____________ is a registered trademark of Company A.” If your nonprofit anticipates your marks will be used by others, you may consider including guidelines for proper, acceptable usage of your trademarks.

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