Copying Pictures & Text from the World Wide Web


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Tutorial Overview

Topics covered in this tutorial (click link to jump to topic):

1. Introduction 4. Saving Pictures
2. Digital Media Rights 5. Saving a Complete Web Page
3. Copying Pictures   Copyright


It is possible to save text and images out of a browser window, or in fact save a whole web page. There are even tools that allow you to download a complete web site whilst preserving its directory structure. Generally speaking though, to do so is a breech of copyright with some notable exclusions for educational purposes, or what is know as "fair use".

Copyright law is complex and differs from country to country. As a general trend, copyright provisions are being strengthened in favour of the author and not relaxed. A comprehensive guide to copyright in Australia can be found at

As regards the Internet you should bear in mind that the materials you are copying may in fact have been created at considerably expense to the author and that they may be with in their rights to insist on remuneration. So with that the general information in mind...

This tutorial is brought to you courtesy of Dynamic Web Solutions. Please contact Peter or Michael for a quote on a dynamic, mobile friendly web site with content management, Google analytics, hosting and web marketing support: (+61) 2 66993800.

Digital Media Rights

The whole question of copyright pertaining to movies and music is the subject of many legal challenges and debate. The issue is polarised between large, entrenched interests who are attempting to protect media they have made or purchased and individuals who perceive that the pricing and tactics of the media owners are excessive, unfair, outmoded or inconvenient. Most downloaders do not perceive their activities as stealing, they point out that the artist has already been fleeced by the large media companies.

The general trends are:

  • music companies are flexing their considerable financial muscle and suing the worst abuses of music downloading (fraternity colleges in the US, i.e. individuals) and shutting down free music sites that rely on peer to peer download software e.g. napster and kazzar, but not limeware?
  • Hollywood is soon to follow, particular in regards to bittorrent, a software client that allows people to download parts of movies or TV shows from different machines. This is different from the above music download software that connects your computer to one other to acquire one complete file.
  • Both Sony and Microsoft have implemented systems that limit media playback. Sony developed the controversial "Sony rootkit" and Microsoft released its digital rights manager as a critical patch. Both either do not allow users to port their media to other devices or limits playing in some way. So if you buy some Sony CDs you can not rip it to MP3 to put it on your MP3 player. Buyer beware! For more detail, see Sony rootkit scandal and commentary.
  • Similarly Apple, iTunes and iTune music store also lock you into Apple's proprietary music file format (.aiff). Few people realise this when they are building an iTunes library and making up playlists... if later you want to listen to these files on your mobile phone, it won't recognise the file. You can swap away from .aiff to .mp3 in iTunes advnace settings or use a third party program to create your own MP3s then import these into iTunes.

Author's View:
Personally, until this battle is won, I am staying on the sidelines. I believe the actions of media companies going after the fan base is just plain dumb and they need to rethink the price, packaging and delivery of their product while on the other hand I believe the original artist should be remunerated for their talent and effort and downloading their work is not fair.

In Australia the record companies need the Federal Government to remove the 16% excise from the wholesale price of a CD (as they promised they would prior to the introduction of the GST). This would price point a CD at around $20. The record companies could add value to their product with better cover art and lyrics.

Also, if the artist actually got a better deal from the record companies, fans would feel happier about paying the price, but many artists feel ripped off by the Sony's and Warner Brother of this world. There are plenty of examples of artists only performing live until their record company contract expires or making and distributing their own CDs to avoid onerous contracts.

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Copying Pictures

To copy a picture (assuming it is not under copyright),

  1. right mouse click the picture.
  2. A pop up menu appears, select "Save Picture As".
  3. A dialogue box will appear asking you to give the picture a name and a location you wish to save it to. Select the Windows Desktop and give the file a new name – or accept the default name.

Now you can use the picture in a Word document (go Insert, Picture, From a File), put it on your own web page, tile it on your desktop or whatever.

Is the image copyright free? How can I tell?
Let's assume you found the image on the Google images tab, if you click through to the page Google scraped the image from and look at the footer of the page, you will most likely see a copyright message. As a matter of courtesy you should try to contact the siteowner and request use of the picture.

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Saving Text

To save ink jet and toner cartridge, consider copying and pasting text from web pages rather printing from your browser. If you print from your browser, you will use expensive ink printing pictures, when, if all you want is the text, you can paste it into any text editor (e.g. MS Word, Wordperfect, Wordpad, etc), save it and then you will be able to read, edit it, copy it into any assignment or other document.

As you have probably discovered, printing from a browser window often cuts off information on the right hand side of the page. For this reason, cutting and pasting text to a new text document may be useful... and when you leave the images behind, it will also save ink.

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Saving a Complete Web Page

You can also save the whole web page (i.e. the HTML document and its associated pictures) to your computer’s hard drive.

From inside your browser, go "File", "Save As".

In the resulting dialogue box you can rename the HTML document and/or nominate a destination directory… or just accept the defaults. Notice also, at the bottom of the dialogue box it says "Save as type". Click the down arrow to the right and you will see the option to either save JUST the html or the "complete" web page i.e. the web page and its images.

Once you have saved the HTML document you can include some or all of the HTML code in one of your own HTML documents or just read it off-line.

As you know, your computer caches - it automatically saves all the text and pictures from a web page to your computers hard drive (see the "Temporary Internet Files" directory, or the "Cache" directory in Windows Explorer). This means you can view the web pages you have already visited in your browser after you have disconnected from your ISP. But you will only be able to see pages you have alrady visited, not those you haven’t. As soon as you try to request a page you have not visited, your computer will ask you to connect up to the net again so it can locate the page for you. If you do not wish to log on at this point, simply click "Cancel".

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Copyright exists on all original creative work, including those published on the Internet. The following "fair use" guidelines apply:

  • You can download and use material from the Internet for the purpose of study and research
  • You cannot use large excerpts from the Internet in publications of your own without the express permission of the author.
  • You can use small excerpts without the permission of the author, if you acknowledge the source.
  • You can not use documents published on the Internet for profit.
  • more>>

For example, you could print out an Internet tutorial for your own study, but you could not run classes or write a book based on this material or hand out copies of the tutorial.

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