Copyright for Publicly available Information

I am working on a site and needed feedback from users if specific content would be covered under copyright or not.

Lets take a general example. If I have a car / bike site and I get information from manufacturers website with car / bike information like photos, technical specs etc can they initiate any copyright action against the web owner? Or say if I run a mobile selling site where in I get all the information regarding the mobile from manufacturers site.

Really speaking, this is general information available across but I guess the manufacturer might have copyrights over the content. For example if we take car example

Car Name
Car Picture ? Can this be copyright as pictures may be unique
Model Number

Now all these are general infos regarding the car so what are the implications if we use this info

Or is it that as manufacturers get free publicity they never initiate action?

Any ideas?

You cannot copyright facts, so if you are just listing the specs you should have absolutely no problems. If you start including product descriptions and images, then your milage may vary depending on the usage. Generally speaking, manufacturers don’t care, but if you are painting them or their products in a bad light, they’ll sometimes come at you for copyright or trademark violations, simply to shut you up (whether they have a valid claim or not).

@shadowbox - Thank you very much for your input. Yes basically for the site we needed technical information and images. I guess images we might be able to get from some open source / royalty free site. Description I guess is the only issue and I guess might have it rewritten by some writers so that there are no issues.
Thanks for the help

[FONT=verdana] Jaagare,

Regarding the photos and descriptions, you do have another option: ask the manufacturer for permission to re-publish the material. Given that you are promoting their products, it would be in their interests to agree.

That said, if the firm in question is a huge corporation (such as a car manufacturer), it could take a long time and a lot of effort to track down the person who you need to ask. And you might end up talking to the legal people, who won’t be as motivated as, say, the marketing department. But with a smaller firm, it would be a good approach to try.


They might also have press release material that is free to use.

@Mikl @guido2004 - thanks a lot for the suggestions. Press release kit sounds a good option so will check if that is available. Secondly I agree that as we finally promote a company’s product, the marketing team would be more than happy to provide the info, but like you said the legal team might take this on a case to case basis and might even reject small time sites which are currently under development. But good ideas and will keep everyone updated as to how things progress on this.