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.