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Are meta tags copyrighted?

   
6:31 pm on Jan 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



I am building a human edited web directory, and wanted to know if the meta-tag description on a website is copyrighted.

Can I use the description in my human edited directory, exactly as they appear.

I know this most probably sounds a dumb question when you consider that SE spiders swipe them for use in the engines, but I just wonder what the legal position is here.

Any ideas?

Tony

6:48 pm on Jan 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



The legal position is lawyers make a fortune on this very question.

In general the SE's use the defence of implied copyright. I guess you can use the same as the defence is not only available to bots.

Of course don't if the site says "do not copy our metatags".

6:57 pm on Jan 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



On this issue I could argue that it is "fair use" because it is the description that they provide in the meta tag to describe their site for the search engines. Personally I think it is ok.
11:04 pm on Jan 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member bigdave is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



My non-lawyer opinion is that it is what is being supplied as a way for others to describe that page, so there is certainly a good argument that it is implied permission to use the description *to describe that page*.

That is not to say that you have any implied permission to use that description for any other purpose, such as to copy it for use on one of your own pages.

Of course, that does not mean that you are clear of the possibility of being sued. There are certainly plenty of people that will at the very least, threaten legal action even when you are in the right.

11:11 pm on Jan 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



I know this most probably sounds a dumb question when you consider that SE spiders swipe them for use in the engines

IANAL but in the UK, meta tags and website product information is covered by database right, so you can't just take it and use it. Search engines don't compete in the same arena - unlike your direct competitor who can take your meta tags.

8:34 am on Jan 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Thanks for all your replies. Looks like I need to seek legal advice before proceding.
 

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