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Is it strictly legal to post a business's information on your website?

If the answer to the above is yes, then I guess I don't really have another question; however, if it is no, on what circumstances does it depend?

I've seen this post: Is it possible to legally prohibit someone from linking to specific pages on your website? and the answer states: "use of information is not infringing".

But, I'm still not sure from that single line that my use case would be fine.

The use case for me would be posting a business's specials on my website: this could range from free entry to a paintball park to happy hour at a bar. Does it matter how I get this information? What If I copy pasted their specials from their website? Must I paraphrase their information? Does it matter if I didn't post this information and other people were allowed to post it?

This is really almost free advertising for these restaurants/bars/businesses and I don't expect to have a problem, but I want to make sure that it isn't illegal.

  • "does it matter if I didn't post this information and other people were allowed to post it" is a rather different question than "is it okay to post it" – phoog Jun 22 '15 at 18:43
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    What do you mean by "information"? – BrenBarn Jun 22 '15 at 18:49
  • by information, i really just mean just about any public information that they would have on their website or that would be general knowledge (happy hour at X place from 5-7 .. that they would likely advertise in their restaurant or something). Not saying taking their pictures from a website or pretending to be the establishment – HelloWorld Jun 23 '15 at 0:27
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It depends on what information you are sharing, how you got it, and what rights the business asserts over the information.

For example, if it is content created by the business and they claim copyright protection you can only use it without their permission in accordance with Fair use exceptions.

If you obtain the information through some limited/conditional access agreement you would be subject to the terms of that agreement.

As always: If you want a legal opinion specific to your use case you need to consult a lawyer in your jurisdiction.

  • So if a business has a happy hour from 5-7 is that not public information? Plus, that's not really something you can obtain a copyright for? (unless you have some special named happy hour - but then i guess it'd be a trademark?) edit: I do plan on contacting a lawyer as well, but wanted to get some general legal advice too first. Thank you for your answer. – HelloWorld Jun 22 '15 at 18:27
  • @user2243357 it seems very unlikely that anyone could trademark "happy hour" as it is most likely a generic term -- the common name for a period during which a bar or restaurant offers special prices on drinks and/or food. – phoog Jun 22 '15 at 18:40
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    @user2243357: Is a happy hour public information? Maybe. In general I would imagine that a business's promotions are intended to be as widely distributed as possible and, as you said, they would be happy for free publicity. Except for those that aren't. For example, maybe a business holds a happy hour and only wants to let members of its preferred customer list know about it. Absent some contract it's probably still legal for recipients of that information to share it, and for others who hear it from them to publicize it. The only way to legally protect knowledge is via patent or contract. – feetwet Jun 22 '15 at 20:08
  • thanks for the advice! will get some final perspective from a lawyer, but i'm of the same opinions – HelloWorld Jun 23 '15 at 0:24
  • I can imagine various situations where aggregating public - but not otherwise readily available - information could be construed as various torts eg tortious interference with a contract. You also ask if it matters how you get the information. Yes probably. ie if you are posting a copy of an email they sent you it's harder for them to complain. But if you're scraping their website... well just ask weev. – jqning Jun 23 '15 at 2:41
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A business (nor an individual) can not copyright that "we have a happy hour weekdays from 5:00pm to 7:00pm.

If the information was publicly announced (i.e. via a sandwich board in the street outside their door, or in a newspaper ad) then it is "news" and is not protected by copyright.

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