I found an online calculator that determines certain parameters I need. However, that calculator can be improved and more information added. I have improved it and now I want to make it public on my new website, however, I don't know anything about online copyright as this is my first attempt to do something similar. I have copied the HTML page and javascript and customized it to make it better. On the original online calculator and downloaded files, there isn't any copyright claim. Does it mean I have the right to use these newly modified files and publish the improved calculator on my website?

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    There doesn't (necessarily) need to be a "copyright claim" for there to be a copyright on the work. Copyrights (depending on the country) are automatically given at the time the work is published. A person (or entity) does not have to say "Copyright 2019" for it to exist. So just from a basic understanding of what you did, you are creating a derivative work and are violating the copyright of the original author.
    – Ron Beyer
    Jul 28, 2019 at 18:44
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    Good for you for wanting to improve something that is out there. You can contact the author and ask them what they think about your work and whether they could acknolwedge your contribution and update their existing calculator or whether they can give you a license to publish your own. Jul 29, 2019 at 7:57
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    You may have checked already. But is there a github or something behind this website, or something that contains a licence?
    – Nathan
    Jul 29, 2019 at 13:45
  • I wouldn’t personally be too worried about it because if the author did not include a copyright claim, and you don’t make over $100, he probably won’t care. This isn’t actual legal advice but something to keep in mind. However do try to contact the author and they probably will be fine with you using it.
    – gsquaredxc
    Jul 29, 2019 at 17:00

2 Answers 2


There doesn't need to be any copyright claim for there to be copyright protection. The protection is given automatically whenever someone authors a work.

If you make money off of your improved version, the owner of the page may sue you for royalties.

The only way to avoid this is to ask him for permission, or to create your page without using any of the source code of the original page.

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    “Making money” is not the be all and end all of copyright violations. Successful claims can and are made against people who do not monetize and successful defenses are made by people who do.
    – Dale M
    Jul 28, 2019 at 22:38
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    True. Fair use as a defense to a copyright claim should be considered, and even if the person in question did not monetize their web app the copyright owner would be entitled to an injunction preventing the use of the copyrighted code Jul 28, 2019 at 22:46
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    and statutory damages i.e. cash irrespective of if the violator made money or not
    – Dale M
    Jul 28, 2019 at 23:58
  • One example of a claim that doesn't rely on money is that by making this calculator, that got more traffic towards OP. It's not strictly about money but OP does benefit from the copyrighted item. That might also turn into a monetary claim if there are ads that OP gets money from, for example - in that case even if the calculator is released for free, one could very well make the claim that OP got money out of it from showing ads. The situationthen becomes incredibly sticky, as it's very hard to gauge what the exact monetary impact is.
    – VLAZ
    Jul 29, 2019 at 8:59
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    @supercat In the US at least, machine-generated content is not copyrightable. Only works created by a human can be copyrighted.
    – bta
    Jul 29, 2019 at 18:37

If you copy and republish the page, it's the same as copying and republishing any copyrighted work. There's no difference for "online copyright".

Automatic copyright isn't a thing everywhere. (although it is in most places.) If you happen to be in such a place, check your local laws, the page may not have copyright protection. (just where you are)

It's unlikely that the original creator of the calculator will attempt to sue you over it. Though, if you're concerned about that happening you could re-implement most/all of the code and layout. Without seeing it myself, I don't know how complicated the implementation is.


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