Where material is supplied to us for publishing on the web, whilst we take care to observe if there might be copyright issues ultimately it is the responsibility of the content provider to ensure they have permission to use it. If you’re in doubt, ask permission from the owner. As a website owner and business owner you should obtain permission to use photographs, graphics, music, video, and text from the author or artist. If a client hands us something to publish we will assume that our client has obtained such permission. In summary, you don’t have the right to use another person’s intellectual property for commercial purposes, but you may use such property for education purposes with acknowledgement to the owner.
Under Australian Copyright Law, copyright protection is automatic, and no © symbol is required. For Artistic works (such as paintings, drawings, cartoons, sculpture, craft work, photographs, maps and plans), copyright lasts from the time the material is created until 50 years after the year of the creator’s death. There is some great inf on the Aus copyright site, http://www.copyright.org.au/find-an-answer/
If something doesn’t have a copyright notice, can it be copied?
Not necessarily. Once something is created in a tangible form, like a website, photo, or video, it is protected by copyright. The creator of the work doesn’t need to display a copyright symbol or do anything – the copyright is implicit in the creation of that work.
Is it ok to copy a design of another website?
Ideas can’t be copyrighted, but designs can. However it is a matter of degree to which the design is unique and recognised as a brand or specific to that business. So whilst you could copy say the style of a menu bar from a website you would be unwise to copy their logo and change the colour. I certainly wouldn’t assume that you can copy the look of a well known site like Google or Facebook. Most likely as soon as they realised that you existed then you would receive some communication from their lawyers.
If you see a design that you like, save it to your hard drive, and then replace all the content with your own, you are violating copyright. The way we build websites for our clients is that whilst we might use another website for design ideas we create our own from scratch, we do the code ourselves and so on. That being said though, every developer on the internet is always looking at what others do and learning from their code so you would have to be really blatant in your plagarism of a high profile site to get into any problems legally I would think.