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I would like build an web-application that has thumbnails (around 100x100) of photos. These thumbnails will be linked to the original site (the copyright holder). Is this something that is legal to do?

E.g this will be similar to Google Image Search.

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closed as off-topic by MichaelT, Snowman, durron597, Dan Pichelman, Bart van Ingen Schenau Sep 23 at 18:27

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Good question. Was going to ask this as well, but found your question first. – canadiancreed Jul 16 '11 at 13:13
I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is asking a question of legality. – MichaelT Sep 22 at 14:11

3 Answers 3

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Yes and it is called fair use. I'm sure it won't cause you any issue if you don't replicate the exact same content (full size pictures).

Please note that it may depend on the country.

Fair use, a limitation and exception to the exclusive right granted by copyright law to the author of a creative work, is a doctrine in United States copyright law that allows limited use of copyrighted material without acquiring permission from the rights holders. Examples of fair use include commentary, criticism, news reporting, research, teaching, library archiving and scholarship. It provides for the legal, non-licensed citation or incorporation of copyrighted material in another author's work under a four-factor balancing test. The term fair use originated in the United States. A similar principle, fair dealing, exists in some other common law jurisdictions. Civil law jurisdictions have other limitations and exceptions to copyright. [WikiPedia]

Some jurisdictions will condemn you, fair use or not. The worth example I know is google being sued by some belgian's medias (Google News).

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My country does not recognize 'fair use'. For this reason our Wikipedia had to impose a special rule as to which media can be used in articles. – Mchl Jul 16 '11 at 12:08
Is there a listing for where countries stand on fair use at all? – canadiancreed Jul 16 '11 at 13:12
@Mchl: something that may interest you (from Wikipedia): In November 2007, Israel passed a new Copyright Law that included a US style fair use exception. The law, which took effect in May 2008, permits the fair use of copyrighted works for purposes such as private study, research, criticism, review, news reporting, quotation, or instruction or testing by an educational institution.[36] The law sets up four factors, similar to those of section 107 under American law, to determine whether a use is fair use. – user2567 Jul 16 '11 at 13:23
@canadiancreed: I'm not aware of any existing list. If you find one, would you be so kind to post it here? – user2567 Jul 16 '11 at 13:24
Pierre 303: I am not in Israel. Nevertheless I was wrong. Done some reading in the meantime. My country does in fact recognize fair use, although it separates private vs. non-private fair use and is pretty strict as to when non-private fair use is allowed. Not in the Jonas' case apparently. – Mchl Jul 16 '11 at 13:31

Seek permission - if all you are doing is linking to the copyright holders material, you would normally get permission, unless you are pushing policitacla/religious or moral agendas that offend the copyright holder. In a case like this, seeking forgiveness could cost you a lot of money.

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In the United States, you would likely be protected by OCILLA, sections 512(b) and 512(d). Make sure you comply with the safe harbor requirements.

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