At IlluminAge, we’ve always advised clients to have a robust content strategy for their websites. Blog posts and other high-quality, frequently updated content establish you as an expert in your industry, motivate current and potential customers and referral sources to visit your site frequently, and can give your site a search engine boost.

So when you run across an article in an online publication that you really agree with and want to share, or one that seems relevant to your audience, or even mentions you or your business, the impulse is to send it right to your IlluminAge web team for posting, or to put it up yourself if you manage your own blog. Through the magic of cut and paste, you can have great content in no time, right?

Well, probably not. Your IlluminAge team doesn’t want to be a bunch of meanies, but we do want to protect both you and ourselves from dealing with an unpleasant, possibly costly, copyright infringement claim. Here are a few questions we sometimes hear:

Why can’t I cut and paste, if I give credit? Most online copy is copyrighted. It belongs to the author or licensee, and it’s their intellectual property. For many, their content is their livelihood. So they want to retain control of it for their use. You can’t repurpose it on your site, even if it’s for a good cause.

How can I know if it’s legal to copy it? For the most part, when in doubt, don’t reproduce it. Check the “terms of service” on the owner’s website. You’ll most likely find a stern warning to not reproduce their content without permission, or a set of guidelines if they do give permission. Even if you don’t find a statement, assume that material is copyrighted.

But what if I or my business is mentioned in the article? If they interviewed you, they likely will allow you to republish as a courtesy, with credit. But you still need permission.

Permission? Can I get that? Possibly. There may be a form or other contact information you can use to request permission to reproduce an article. Be sure to tell them how you will be using it. Keep in mind that large organizations may not respond for some time, so if you’re on a deadline, you might be disappointed.

Can’t IlluminAge make the request? It’s better if the request comes from you so the authors will know more directly what it will be used for. Tell them who you are, and why you would like permission to reproduce the article. Assure them you will give proper credit (that’s the line at the end, along the lines of “Reprinted with permission of the Springfield Times-Gazette” or “Reprinted courtesy of University of Illinois”).

What about press releases? Businesses, universities and other organizations put out press releases to promote themselves and their work. These are meant to be picked up by legitimate news entities. Commercial use is a bit of a gray area. Check for guidelines. In general, you can reproduce those, so long as you don’t edit them to change the meaning of the article or to imply that they are endorsing you. If you add any language, keep it separate from the material in the release. And double check that it really is a press release. A blog post is not a press release.

What about government materials? In general, those are considered in the public domain, meaning you can use them freely. But check the fine print—some materials may be copyrighted. And don’t change the meaning, or insert a plug for your business that implies that it’s coming from the original source.

But I really want people to see that article!! Though you can’t reprint someone else’s content whole cloth, you can include very short passages, reference it, and post a link with a short blurb instead. This might be even more engaging for your audience because you’re giving them context and lending authority to the article. For example, maybe a local newspaper who was doing an article about pet therapy came to visit your senior living community and included a nice writeup and photo. If you can’t get permission to reprint, say something like this:

Shady Oaks Senior Residence was so pleased that the Springfield Times-Gazette recently visited our community for an article on pet therapy. Our dog Josie was the star of the show! Here’s what the reporter had to say. [add the link]


AARP recently published an article about the benefits of geriatric care management services. At Springfield Care Managers, LLC, we wholeheartedly agree that aging life care professionals can save a lot of money and heartache as families are creating a care plan for their loved one. Read the article here [add the link]:

I want awesome content—where else can I get it? Our IlluminAge content creators would be happy to provide you with great content. We have literally decades of experience writing in the field of aging and senior care, and we’re constantly scouring news, updates and research to keep our offerings up to date and to find new and interesting stories and angles for older consumers and senior care experts. We offer custom content, semi-custom content that is carefully edited for use by a specific client, and client delivered “ready-to-post” as part of our AgeWise Weekly Content subscription service.

What about photos and graphics? Can I copy those? Many people cut and paste photos off the internet for various reasons and without permission. If a person is doing that for a personal Facebook post or a school project, it is unlikely to result in copyright questions. But copying a photo onto your website is another matter! Photos are copyrighted, just like articles. And stock photo companies aggressively go after people who use their photos without paying for them. They have software bots that roam the internet looking for instances in which their images are being used without a license. You may hear from a copyright holder in a situation like that, even if you didn’t copy it directly from their own site. IlluminAge can help you source good quality photos for your web site or blog. Contact us to learn more.