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Copyright laws are complex especially when it pertains to the Internet, primarily because almost everything is covered by implied protection, even the links to Wikipedia may be a copyright violation. I have always been uncomfortable with the history pages because of this. It would be nearly impossible to write anything of a historical nature without violating someone's copyright because these rights extend for seventy years after the death of the original copyright holder. Who originally took a photograph or wrote a company biography would be extremely difficult to ascertain so getting everyone's permission for all practical purposes is impossible. Just putting older published information into your own words is no protection from violating a copyright. This is especially true for historical information about a company because to be accurate you have to reference previously published information and you can't change it and be accurate.  

Generally you can use information on the internet that may be copyrighted (technically everything is) as long as it is not for a commercial purpose. You might wonder how providing information about long defunct companies could have any commercial application. It is a stretch but in the digital age one could argue that if any part of a website contained materials on of a commercial nature then all of it does.

Even if you get permission from an Internet author to use their material that is no guarantee that it is not protected under someone else's copyright. Usually if you acknowledge the source of internet material you are using the worst that can happen is that you could be asked to remove it and that is all most reasonable people would ask. Of course you have no way to know if the person giving you permission actually is the legitimate copyright owner. It is best to get written permission but most of the time emailed request end up in the trash.

I am including links to information pertaining to copyright law (hopefully not violating any by doing so) so you can see for yourself why when asked to remove some of the history page information I just removed it all other than for Star Watch Case company which happened to be a local company where I knew the former owners and have permission from the local newspaper.

The following links are either to Wikipedia pages or to information I have the copyright to.

American Watch Manufacturers

American Waltham Watch Company

Ball Watch Company

Elgin Watch Company

Hamilton Watch Company

Hampden Watch Company

E. Howard Watch Company

Illinois Watch Company

Manistee Watch Company

South Bend Watch Company

United States Watch Company

About Railroad Time

Watch Case Manufactures


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