As an attorney, I regularly get asked legal questions by my friends. Of particular concern among marketers and PR professionals are copyright and fair use, because those concepts apply to content marketing strategy.

I get asked some variation of the same 10 questions on a regular basis, so I'm going to answer them here.

1. Can I use someone else's content (text, image, video, music) on my website if I give them credit?

Not unless they've given you written permission to use their material, OR you're willing to spend the money to present a "fair use" defense if the creator sues you for copyright infringement. (It's nearly impossible to know in advance whether the court will ultimately find that your use was "fair.")

2. But what if I'm not making any money off my blog? Can I use someone else's content then?

No. Using someone else's work without permission is still copyright infringement, whether you make money from it or not. It might, however, influence whether what you did is considered "fair use" by a court, or how much money the court awards in damages.

3. But what if I only use a little bit of someone else's content, like a few seconds of video or a paragraph of their whitepaper?

There is no "safe amount" of someone else's copyrighted material you can use without permission. Not 30 seconds, not 10, not 5. Zero.

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image of Kerry O'Shea Gorgone

Kerry O'Shea Gorgone is a lawyer, podcaster, speaker, and writer. As a learning designer, she helps develop MarketingProfs' premium training products. She co-hosts Punch Out With Katie and Kerry about people's hobbies, interests, and weird collections! Kerry also hosts MarketingProfs' weekly interview show Marketing Smarts. To contact her regarding podcasts, email

LinkedIn: Kerry O'Shea Gorgone

Twitter: @KerryGorgone