What Is and Isn't Legal to Use on a Web Site?

Is it legal to set up links to a Web site without asking? Can I copy information from a Web site and use it again? And who owns the design of a Web site?

Each aspect of your question has a different answer, so let's take them one by one:

Links: Yes, it is legal to set up a Web site and have that site link to other sites without permission. A link is not something that is considered to be protected by copyright law.

Information ownership: Most often, the company that owns the Web site owns the information contained on that site, but not always. For example, AllBusiness owns what you are reading right now and you cannot legally reproduce it without their permission. Other Web sites allow the writer of material on the site to maintain the copyright, and thus the right to republish the material.

Copying information: Most information that you see on most sites is protected by copyright law and cannot be published again without the permission of the holder of the copyright. Some information you read may be part of the public domain and can be used again, but the nuances in copyright law are extremely detailed.

Design: The design is likely to be owned by the site, although it is conceivable that the designer retained ownership of the design. Again, permission would be needed to use a design.