Think the Internet is a treasure trove of information ripe for the picking? Think again. The Internet is no different from other forms of human creativity (inventions, songs, articles, books, etc). Most Internet material is protected by either copyright or trademark law. Copyright protects the specific and tangible expression of an idea, not the idea itself. If you lifted an article from an author about aliens from Mars, you would be in violation. If you nurtured the idea of writing an article on aliens, you would be OK. Copyright attaches itself to an author as soon as he/she creates it. The owner has six rights one being no “reproduction” including downloading. Users can come under “Fair Use” which is defined as a limited use of copyright-protected work. Purpose, nature, how much and the effect on society are legally judged on a case-by-case basis. Best advice: Getting permission, paying a fee, finding flexible licensing agreements, using non protected works (authors life + 70 years) are all ways to obey the law. For more: http://www.creativecommons.org.