Copyrighted materials require permission from the copyright holder under certain conditions, according to Baylor University. In order to use media content online that was created or is owned by someone else, it must be determined if the material is protected by a copyright or falls under the fair-use guideline.
Content obtained from the Internet should be presumed to be copyright-protected, states Baylor University. As of 2015, a work may be copyrighted whether or not it's been published or registered, and the absence of a copyright notice doesn't mean the material is not protected. In some cases, a work may be used if it qualifies for fair use.
Fair use is a defense against a claim of copyright infringement, according to Baylor University. Works that are used for commentary, criticism, research, teaching or parody may qualify as fair-use cases. Additional factors to consider are whether the material was used for commercial or non-commercial purpose, the nature of the work, whether the work was used in its entirety or demonstrated as a portion, and the effect on the market to which it's presented.
Many works published online are released under a Creative Commons license, which allows specific types of use or reproduction without permission from the owner or creator, reports Baylor University. It's the responsibility of the user to find out what copyright protection, if any, the work is protected by and to garnish permission for its use.