I've been learning web designing for a while now, and I hope to achieve an internship in this field sometime soon. I've noticed that most prospective employers ask for samples of work while looking at resumes. Since I don't have any real world experience in web design, it's important for me to show some relevant skills at least upfront. While a portfolio is always a given, I have been redesigning some random websites from time to time. Is it legal for me to put up the source code for these websites that I've redesigned on Github? The idea is that since Github repositories are publicly visible, I would be able to show my work through Github to prospective employers. This, I feel, is always better than just claiming - "I have skills in XYZ area".

I'm a graduate student in the US. Will I face legal issues according to US laws if I do this? Should I include some copyright notice in all my Github source folders, something like - "The content designed in the websites is not mine, and I'm just recreating them"? Some of the websites I have re-designed include company logo pictures, which I had to just save (to my computer) and re-use.

  • Welcome to the site. Please remember that this is not a site for computer experts, it is a site for legal experts; you may find that you get better answers if you clearly delineate what is your work, what is derivative work and what is taken verbatim.
    – Dale M
    Commented Aug 10, 2015 at 6:44
  • What did you do the websites in? HTML5/CSS/JS etc. or something like ASP etc.? If the former, you'd only need to have links to the appropriate places (anybody can "view source" and follow links), and I'd have a hard time imagining this would be problematic (references are not copyright infringement, if I understand correctly). I would not make copies of those files and post them to another location on the Internet - that is copyright infringement or could reasonably be construed as such. IANAL.
    – Patrick87
    Commented Sep 22, 2015 at 13:34
  • it would be safer, as well as more telling of your abilities, to come up with original designs for made-up entities rather than showing derivative work.
    – Rad80
    Commented Nov 3, 2022 at 10:53

2 Answers 2


Yes, in general you can face legal issues if you distribute copyright material in a way that is not authorised by the copyright holder. The text and images of websites are almost always subject to copyright.


According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_use:

Fair use is a limitation and exception to the exclusive right granted by copyright law to the author of a creative work.

Examples of fair use include commentary, search engines, criticism, parody, news reporting, research, teaching, library archiving and scholarship.

If your re-designs clearly indicate the appropriate commentary, criticism or research on the matter (e.g., the before and after screenshots, together with the before and after source code, for example), giving appropriate credit to the original source, and without you trying to misattribute to yourself the work done by others, then someone in your situation would likely have a good affirmative defense based on the fair use doctrine to any copyright violation claim that the copyright holders might bring.

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