In my work, we asked a writer for permission to reprint an article that he published on another site, telling him we would give him credit as well as link to the original site where he published the article. He gave us permission to use the article, but said we should only mention the site’s name without linking to them. His exact words (when he told us not to link to them) were:
“you can’t do that because they charge for the articles…. but if you just credit them as I suggested that will be fine.”
Our question is: Even though he gave us permission to use his article, is there any issue with gezel?
We don’t know if he owns the rights to the piece (I am assuming he does or he would have said we couldn’t republish it since the piece was commissioned by this site as an exclusive, etc.)
We can’t ask him, either — he’s not frum and my boss thinks he would get upset at us and we could ruin the company’s relationship with him.
What do you think? Can we use his piece and just give the site credit that originally published it?
You can re-publish the article.
If the author gives you permission to print the article, you can assume that he has the rights to it, and that using the article will not be an issue of gezel.
I don’t know what he means about linking the site, but I don’t think you need to be concerned; it is the author’s responsibility, if he’s under contract, to inform you of the issues involved, and beyond asking him you don’t need to go further.
[This answer is given without getting into the general issues of copyright legislation in halachah, and the specific question of copyright on Torah material.]