Blogger Basics: Copyright

The web was buzzing last week with news that a small freebie magazine, Cooks Source, had allegedly committed a copyright violation by publishing a writer’s apple pie recipe and article without asking her permission. Edward Champion provided a synopsis of the entire incident and discovered quite a few other possible violations.

The magazine’s dubious actions would have been bad enough, but the editor further inflamed the situation by her arrogant and clueless response to the original author. The editor wrote,

“I have been doing this for 3 decades,…I do know about copyright laws….But honestly Monica, the web is considered “public domain” and you should be happy we just didn’t “lift” your whole article and put someone else’s name on it!…” (excerpts)

She refused to apologize or compensate the author, instead saying,

“You as a professional should know that the article we used written by you was in very bad need of editing, and is much better now than was originally. Now it will work well for your portfolio.… We put some time into rewrites, you should compensate me!”

It’s too late for this editor, but we can learn some lessons from her disgrace.

Understand copyright.

The U.S. Copyright Office at the Library of Congress has an easy-to-understand Frequently Asked Questions section that explains basic copyright principles:

  • The moment you create a work and fix it in tangible form, that is, perceptible directly or online, your work is under copyright protection.
  • Original writings, artwork, photographs and other forms of authorship on a website are protected upon creation.
  • Unpublished work is protected.
  • The © symbol is not required for copyright protection.
  • Although your work may be protected, you can only sue for copyright infringement if your work is registered with the U.S. Copyright Office.
  • The web is NOT public domain. Public domain is not a place. Public domain applies to works with expired copyrights, generally 70 years after the author’s death, or work that fails to meet requirements for copyright protection, for example, facts, ideas or methods of operation.
  • Under the fair use doctrine, you can use limited portions of a work, including quotes, for commentary, criticism and news reporting. An example of commentary that falls under the fair use doctrine are the editor’s quotes that I use above. By linking back to Monica’s website, readers have access to the original work.

Additional copyright resources:

copyright basics blogger blogging
flickr photo by 5tein

Get to know Creative Commons.

I use Creative Commons licensed photographs on my two blogs. Before you use a Creative Commons licensed work, find out which type of license applies. All of them require that you give attribution to the original author. Some give permission to alter a work, some won’t. Some do not allow commercial publication, some do.

Find photos on Flickr by using their search tool for Creative Commons licensed photos.  Flickr provides an explanation of the different types of Creative Commons licenses used on their site. You can find out whether there are usage restrictions on a photo by clicking on “Some rights reserved” under License. The license will always require that you give credit to those who share their work freely with you, either with their real name or Flickr username. You may also be required to link back to the original photo; if not, it’s good social media karma to do so.

Use Google Alerts for monitoring.

Monica found out about her copyright infringement because a friend saw her article and congratulated her on the publication. She wasn’t the only one surprised; other authors were not aware that their work was being used by Cooks Source, even though it appeared online. If they had created Google Alerts and other alerts for their name, they would have found out much earlier.

My recent post, Social Media Monitoring, explains how to find out if your name or blog is mentioned online.

I’m not a copyright expert, like many of you, I continue to learn. The last thing I want to do is unfairly take advantage of someone else’s original work, time and energy.

UPDATE: Since we’re all following along, Cooks Source released a statement on what is left of their website. (4:55pm, November 9, 2010)

Author: deirdrereid

Deirdre is a freelance writer, who after more than 20 years in the association and restaurant industries, is enjoying the good life. Away from her laptop, you can find her walking in the woods, doing yoga, journaling, cooking new recipes, or relaxing in a comfy chair with a good book and a glass of craft beer or wine.

169 thoughts on “Blogger Basics: Copyright”

  1. I hadn’t heard of the Cooks Source case. The editor’s response is simply stunning. When I worked at a newspaper, we found a lot of our material lifted and used by small, free community papers with limited resources, but it was always difficult to track in print. The Internet has made it easier for editors needing shortcuts to abuse copyright laws, but as you point out, it also makes it easier to track and find those abuses. Thanks for posting!

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    1. I think the story broke on Thursday night. It was fun to watch unfold as more and more people, including a lot of TV chefs, discovered their work had been used without their permission. The Cooks Source Facebook page became a public lynching ground. A fake Twitter account went up quickly that’s reminiscent of the fake BP account. I doubt that editor will be working again.

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  2. This story blew me away when I read it through LinkedIn. I know there is a lot of ignorance about “Public Domain” and copyright issues with new bloggers or non-writers, but that an editor would say that, it floored me.

    I have some clients who I explained why it is not okay to just copy and paste someone’s article on your blog without asking. They think it’s okay since they give credit. I wrote a post about it back then. Sadly, one of my clients continues the practice.

    Thanks for a great capsule on the issue.

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    1. I agree, there’s a learning curve for newbies but 30 years is a stretch for being that ignorant. It’s funny, Andy Sernovitz just wrote about publishing other people’s posts without permission — You Can’t Just Take It. I wonder if they too believe the web is public domain or if they’re looking for pingbacks and incoming links for SEO boosts — I tend to believe the latter. Thanks for bringing that up.

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    1. Ooh, thanks, Brian, that’s a good resource. I would bet that there are more copyright infringements with music than there are with any other original work.

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  3. Thanks for this information. Those of us wanting to write with integrity aren’t interested in crossing dubious lines, and want to know clearly what is and is not appropriate. Those who don’t care are only going to look for loopholes to slip their sorry selves through.

    I think there should be more done to protect what gets posted on the internet. As you mention–although whatever you post may be protected, with little tangible repercussion for the offenders, what is that really saying about how much value integrity in the media?

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    1. Self interest wins over integrity for many in real life and here. It’s sad but I guess the cheaters are comforted by higher numbers or something. Don’t want to even get in their mind. Thanks for commenting, Heather.

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      1. “Danger, Will Robinson. Invalid data alert.”

        There is nothing wrong with self interest. Were it not for self interest, no one would ever look for a better job (or a job, period), no one would invent a better way of doing things, et cetera. Self interest is not the issue here. Lack of ethics and morals is the issue here.

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        1. Very true. When I spoke of self-interest, I was thinking about a blind drive for incoming links, web hits, advertising revenue and all that. I agree, we’re all driven by self-interest but we balance it with our values. Their balance was off. You said it — lack of ethics and morals, combined, it seems, with ignorance.

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  4. I couldn’t believe that editors response, what a shame that some one who is the “editor” of a “magazine” (I believe the air-quotes are warrented for this…) has this kind of attitude towards written work. I took a few IP Law courses to learn about patent law, but I learned about copyrights as well, if it is out of your head and on a page, blog, flash drive, tape, dvd, etc. it is under copyright protection, if you register it, it makes it easier to proove it is yours and to sue, but if you don’t do anything, you are automatically granted coppyright even if you don’t put down a (c), but please do so, so some “editor” doesn’t forget your work is not public domain!

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    1. I haven’t yet put any copyright notice on this blog, but it’s on my to-do list. Of course, as in Monica’s case, it won’t stop those who don’t care. Thanks for reemphasizing that advice.

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    1. Thanks, I saw my traffic spike and knew something was up. Freshly Pressed! Woo hoo!

      I am soooo grateful for Creative Commons. The work that people share, like the fantastic photo in this post, is top-notch. Thanks for reading!

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  5. I can understand someone being a bit confused about whether something can be legally reproduced or not from a web source. However, it seems odd for someone to think that the entire web is public domain.

    The person’s claims and replies seem to be almost a parody.

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    1. I believe I read somewhere that some of the Facebook replies might have been courtesy of a hacker, but I could be wrong. That would be a great way for them to spin it — just kidding, it was all a hoax. But sadly, it’s all true. Thanks for commenting, Michael.

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  6. Absolutely correct! However, I do see a day in the future, when, glutted with information, especially online libraries and galleries, the overload and universal use of online content will be impossible to protect under current copyright laws.

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    1. It already is impossible to protect, but I can only hope that those who steal or violate will fall to the bottom of the pile and those who create good content rise to the top — that the “market” will reward the good. Yeah, I’m an optimist. Thanks for visiting.

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    1. Thanks, Megan, you’ve got the right attitude. I intend to keep reviewing the resources until this knowledge is embedded in me like muscle memory. It’s just about there! I plan to write a similar post on my other blog, Grabbing the Gusto, but focus it more on recipe copyright — that’s a bit more complicated.

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  7. I know a lot about creative commas but I love the idea of google alerts I am going to set that up for my works. I found your post to be most interesting.

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    1. I’m glad I can be of help. Anyone who is active online, or not, should set up some simple Google Alerts on their name and blog name. Every business and organization should do it whether they have an online presence or not. Thanks for commenting.

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  8. How about that miss editor…so many people give them selves the right to do anything, they should be punished for it, and this so called editor should pay for this type of ignorant and arrogant behavior…

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    1. She has probably lost her job, but even if she hasn’t, I don’t think Cooks Source can survive this. During this debacle many of their advertisers were contacted and have probably been scared off. Ignorance is bad enough in her position, but, like you said, her arrogance is what made the critics cry for blood. Thanks, Ado, for commenting.

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    1. Plagiarism and copyright are two different issues. Most people know not to plagiarize, although many do. But I think a lot of folks infringe copyright without knowing that what they’re doing is wrong. I’m glad this post was helpful, avec plaisir!

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  9. Actually, according to my lawyers and my publishers, you do not have to register your work to be fully protected under the copyright law, which means that you actually CAN sue someone for copyright infringement even if the work is not registered. Registering a work just makes it a lot easier to prove in court that you are the original owner if you have a copyright registration certificate. If you actually couldn’t sue for copyright infringement without being registered then you wouldn’t be protected under the law until you registered the work, but that’s not how copyright law actually works. The US Copyright Office will tell you “yes” to this question because they make money off of each work registered with them. There have been many suits won by owners who never registered their work. If you do not have your work registered, you would hold the burden of proof that you are the original owner if you chose to go to trial. If you did register your work, the burden of proof then shifts to the defendant.

    It does amaze me that so many people on the net think that just because it is posted up on the internet that it is fair game. My best advice to bloggers and other writers/video bloggers of the internet is to treat anything on the internet as if it were in written form. Absolutely no part or portion may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher. In other words, if you didn’t come up with it all on your own, don’t use it. Better safe than sorry.

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    1. Thanks so much for clarifying the registration issue. I took the liberty of bolding the pertinent points in your comment. I hope you don’t mind but I wanted it to stand out. How funny, the resources I’ve read about not being able to sue for damages if a work isn’t registered, all point back to the US Copyright Office as the source — no wonder!

      Your point can’t be emphasized enough. I like your advice — treat everything online as if it were written form. A blogger or writer can always request permission to use something. Why not? It’s a great way to get to know another writer and that person will be pleased to hear from you. What could happen? They’ll say no, request payment or say yes. Work with them or move on, but why not give it a shot. Thank again for adding so much to this discussion, I really appreciate it.

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      1. I just have to chime in here since I am actually a lawyer. Getting the last word is what we do. I think electronic media will, in the courts, hold even stronger protection than traditional media without the need for a registered trademark. Here’s why: since it is indeed a “proof” issue, some people mail themselves copies of their own work and leave it sealed, to get a US Postal Service stamp proving the date of creation. With metadata, I believe WordPress bloggers could prove ownership with a simple keystroke (and an expert witness), confirming the creator of the content. Voila! Insta-proof.

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        1. Nice! Thanks for chiming in, Lori, but you might not get the last word, sorry! 😉 I like the insta-proof aspect on online content. Everything is evolving — problems and solutions.

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  10. Wow- very helpful. Thanks for putting this together. Looks like I need to do some cleanup on my blog to make sure I give credit where it’s due. Yipes!

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  11. Cooks Source is now complaining about others using”…Cooks Source issues and photos is used without our knowledge or consent.” Awwww, look. The crooks are complaining about crooks.

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    1. Ha ha, that’s right. There were a lot of blog posts showing screenshots and photos of Cooks Source articles and comparing them to the original work. How ironic. Yeah, they’re within their rights to complain, I suppose, but seriously, they should just shut up and go away. Thanks for bringing that up.

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  12. I use a great site for images if I can find one on it – http://sxc.hu. I recommend it because each user who posts images is in charge of the licensing for each image. Some require payment, some require notification, some don’t require anything at all. It’s a great resource!

    This is a wonderful outline of how copyright laws work…good advice! Thanks for sharing…

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    1. I’ve used that site once for an image for a presentation, thanks for reminding me (and everyone else). I’m glad this was helpful, thanks again for commenting.

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    1. It takes some time to do the right thing, but it’s the only way, wouldn’t you agree, Brenda? I’m glad this is helpful. As soon as this situation exploded, I knew that the positive outcome would be education. Thanks for commenting.

      P.S. Love your blog tagline — Inspiring Moms at Every Exit.

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    1. As someone already pointed out in the comments above — I bolded the text — some of my points needed further clarification. However, I figured this could serve as foundation to learn more. It’s enough to set someone on the right path. Thanks for commenting.

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    1. You’re welcome. Remember, just because you add the copyright symbol or even register your work, doesn’t mean someone won’t use them without your permission. That’s what happened to Monica.

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  13. I just went to Monica’s website. I am appalled! I followed the link to Cook’s Source website looks as if they are shutting things down temporarily. Good riddens! What did they think was going to happen? How could they think for all these years that they could steal work off the internet? as they stated. That means there are alot more folks out there who are in the same predicament. Thank goodness for social media! Sometimes it beats having a lawyer.

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    1. Social media is the best early warning system going if you use it. They thought they could get away with it because up until last week, they had. I wonder how many low-budget publications are looking at their content and getting nervous. Thanks for visiting, Lara.

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  14. I write ads for my business and the content gets lifted all the time.

    Thanks for the Social Media Monitoring and Google Alerts advice, I never knew about them.

    I know nothing!

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  15. Good piece, very edifying about copyright law — always a fuzzy subject to me and just about everyone else in the creative/writing fields I’m sure. Didn’t get into this business to be a copyright expert but it pays to know what the law is. It’s hard to say what that editor was thinking, was it just a bad day or what?

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    1. I had to study copyright when I was preparing for the Certified Association Executive exam so I was already familiar with some basics but this latest incident inspired me to review all that. She definitely was having the worst day ever but the pattern of using other people’s work had been going on a while. I guess she showed her true colors, yuck.

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  16. Excellent, well-written article with solid, valuable links. Thank you for sharing your knowledge so that others, like me, can grow in knowledge as well.

    Is Flickr a source of free photo use? Do you pay a yearly fee?

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    1. Flickr is a photo sharing website/community. The only photos that you are free to use are the ones with the Creative Commons license and to find those you need to do a specific search, as I mentioned in my post, and review the rights reserved on each photo to make sure you are using it and giving attribution appropriately. It is free to join and upload photos and free to download Creative Commons licensed photos.

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  17. my initial reaction was to publicly bash the editor. but why bother, we all know she is not that sweet of a person. i use some random screen shot of john cusack from ‘Say Anything’ currently as my icon, since it kind of works really well with my whole blog theme. Is that an issue? It’s not as if I’m making money of it…yet 😉

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    1. It doesn’t matter if you make money or not. If you didn’t create the original photo and you didn’t get permission to use it from the creator or copyright owner, then you don’t have the right to use it unless it was released with a Creative Commons license. That’s my interpretation of copyright, but I’m only playing a lawyer today on my blog. 😉

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  18. The Blogger’s lot may not be so bleak. Registration within five years of publication is solid evidence in a court. After that it is up to a jury but you just have to register before the trial and not necessarily before the date of copyright infrigement.

    Copyright Law of the United States of America and Related Laws Contained in Title 17 of the United States Code

    Chapter 4
    Copyright Notice, Deposit, and Registration

    410. Registration of claim and issuance of certificate

    (c) In any judicial proceedings the certificate of a registration made before or within five years after first publication of the work shall constitute prima facie evidence of the validity of the copyright and of the facts stated in the certificate. The evidentiary weight to be accorded the certificate of a registration made thereafter shall be within the discretion of the court.

    From: http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap4.html#408

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    1. That is very cool — retroactive and potential justice. I’m bolding the highlight of your comment, if you don’t mind. You should let Monica know this. Thank so much for adding this to our discussion.

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      1. Not neccessarily. Ianal, but as I understand it, if a work was not registered with the copyright office at the time of the violation, recovery is limited the actual damages (profits made by violator/lost by creator); No punitive damages may be recovered.

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          1. I think that would fall under “actual damages”, but I’m not entirely sure. That’s a subtly that a lawyer would need to clarify.

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  19. Can’t believe the arrogance of that editor! What nerve! (and stupidity)

    Whenever I use an image that’s not my own photo, I always link back to original website. I tend to use images from freedigitalphotos.net & always follow their rules for crediting the artist etc.

    I’d be fuming if someone took any part of my own writing and used it elsewhere…grrrr

    Congrats on being on Freshly Pressed by the way!

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    1. I haven’t used freedigitalphotos.net, thanks for letting us know about that. Bookmark! Thanks, Agatha, it’s been a fun day with all of my ‘guests’. My to-do list is suffering a bit but it’s worth it.

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    1. I think the (c) symbol serves as a warning — hey, don’t touch my stuff — but those who want to infringe on your rights will probably do it anyway. It’s worth a shot.

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  20. I take parts of articles from Wikipedia for my blog, and sometimes photos from other websites, but always mentioning the source. Is that illegal?

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    1. You got me curious. Here’s info from the bottom of Wikipedia’s English home page — Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. See Terms of Use for details. I’d suggest checking those links out for more info.

      Unless the photos are Creative Commons licensed, I don’t think you have the permission to take them unless you ask, no matter if you give attribution or not. That’s why Cooks Source is in trouble — they took but didn’t ask. Any lawyers care to confirm that?

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      1. Hmmm I guess there’s nothing wrong with copying stuff from Wiki then…

        I think I’ll ask for permission to post photos from other websites from now on. I hadn’t given it any thought until I read your entry.

        Thanks for your help and congrats on being on Freshly Pressed.

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  21. The ideas here are most useful, and you capitalize on them quite nicely. I especially appreciate your forethought here, for you have laid your facts before the reader in a clear and concise manner. Other times when I have seen this topic addressed before, I came away more confused than I’d been before reading. So, thank you.

    As a handy desk reference, it could prove invaluable. And, with your permission, I would like to copy it to my desktop for just such a purpose.

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  22. Great post. I’m shocked at the lifting of the article, and then the response–badly written! Happy they didn’t lift the article and put someone else’s name on it! Mon Dieu!

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  23. Wow, I’m amazed that a ‘professional editor’ can act this way and think she can get away with not apologizing and admitting what she did was wrong!. …But it got me thinking how much I know about copyright.

    I’m careful about copyright, when I use other people’s photos on my blog – so most of the time I end up using my own photos, since I love taking pictures anyway. Though it’s good to be reminded every once in a while that copyright is a serious matter… I’ll be double checking what I post on my blog 😉

    Great post and everyone who has a blog should read this! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. If you use Firefox, you can bookmark it into your toolbar or into a reference folder. I think in Internet Explorer, bookmarks are called favorites. Try that.

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      1. OMG…my brain temporarily shut down. I got FP’d yesterday as well, in all my excitement (true) I forgot how to do things like “bookmark.” LOL
        Thanks for not making me feel like an idiot. 🙂 You are kind.

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  24. I have been retired for quite awhile and I am not able to RV anymore.I bought “Blogging for
    Dummies” and “WordPress for Dummies” and settled down to learn the art of blogging.I have been concern about violatiing copyright.I am pretty sure now what a “copyright”,but I am going to look into it further.
    Now to get back to the blogs that I have been building up to post.I have quite a bit to delete to clean up my act!..Thanks for your Blog.

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  25. Great post. Thank you very much. I have a blog about furniture: http://wordpress.donshoemaker.com
    and it happened to me twice. I accidentally found complete texts taken from my posts in 2 other websites! Now I use watermarks on my pictures and I registered the copyrights. Of course, the best solution would be to have the possibility to get the WordPress plugin “CopyrightPro”, which is available for WordPress websites only(I have it already and it works great – it protects your site by 90% from this kind of online violations). Unfortunately, this plugin only is available for WP-websites, for some reason it is not available for the blogs. Maybe this is something that WordPress needs to address in the near future…
    Regards, Karin

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  26. Great information. Let’s hope the thieves and violaters who do this sort of thing take heed. When someone puts their time and effort into their work, be it the written word or photography, etc., it’s such a blow to see others benefit from it without so much as even a mention of the original creator–especially when they have no guilt for doing such and somehow feel almost entitled to do so. Thank you for sharing the knowledge!

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  27. Wow. That’s pretty…wow.
    It’s true, people do not seem to understand that just because no one is physically stopping you from claiming or copypasting someone else’s work, you should take it. It’s the, what-do-ya-call-it, honor system, in some ways. There are by far too few people to police copyright across the Internet, you kind of have to monitor that stuff, like you suggested with Google Alerts. There’s only so much you can do, though. Just keep an eye on things, I guess.

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  28. I have used multiple pictures multiple times as well as wording from many different sources. The working I have used I have always quoted and made sure that I referenced the original material. I’ve always linked the information back to the original source. Any of the pictures I’ve used, I’ve documented with the picture where it came from (usually, within the quoted text and/or somewhere within the quote source).

    I’ve linked to many articles as well as had people link back to me and I’ve had one case where I posted a print (thumbnail size) that I didn’t know the actual author. I was contacted by someone who knew who it belonged to. I immediately corrected my mistake.

    Any picture that I didn’t know where it came from, I leave a notice that if someone does know, let me know and I’ll make the correction.

    Good article. Thanks for the information.

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  29. As a newbie I appreciate the post about copyright rules and blogging with integrity. I have never lifted someones work, but I have used pics from the web. I will start using the info you provided. Thanks for helping a newbie out.

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    1. You’re welcome. We were all newbies once and not always doing the right thing, usually out of plain ignorance. There’s definitely a learning curve, as CultureChoc2010 mentioned above, for blogging.

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  30. Dear Dierdre-

    The Cooks Source incident was a bungled affair. Laughable to me.

    The key item you listed is this:

    -Although your work may be protected, you can only sue for copyright infringement if your work is registered with the U.S. Copyright Office.

    If your work is registered and someone, say, uses a copyrighted photo, it’s a slam dunk. Treble damages, plus court costs.

    As a photographer, I and everyone who works for me has eyeballs on the news stands and on the internet. I just found out that someone used my photographs without me issuing a license to do so. In more than 20 places.

    How did I find out? Well, the front of a magazine is a bad place to hide.

    Did I sue? No. A bad settlement is better than a good lawsuit any day. You’d be amazed how fast a settlement comes about when you email 20 screen captures of the infringement.

    As I understand it, when you post a photograph on Flickr, you waive certain rights to your work. So I only put up certain things to share (parties, etc.) and take them down in X amount of time.

    Also, as a commercial artist, I sell certain rights to my work. But I will never sell the copyright no matter what the dollar amount.

    Thanks for the post and congrats!

    ~Mike

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    1. “Although your work may be protected, you can only sue for copyright infringement if your work is registered with the U.S. Copyright Office.”

      “As I understand it, when you post a photograph on Flickr, you waive certain rights to your work.”

      Nope. Neither is true.

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    2. The front page! What gall! That’s so cool that you got them in a settlement. Doesn’t erase the dirty deed but at least you got compensated for your work. I don’t think you waive any rights when posting to Flickr, at least according to its FAQ, but Flickr users don’t always understand copyright and copy and download images without regard.

      Thanks for the congratulations. It’s been a fun day.

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  31. I just had a thought about some of the implications of this specific situation.

    Imagine you are the editor of a magazine. You work for a publisher. As editor you are using the work of authors without their permission, without their knowledge, and therefore without payment. But the publisher knows that there are costs involved and that one of those costs is paying authors for their work. Hmmm. What to do? You’ll have to write checks to give the appearance of paying those authors. But since you are using their work without their permission and knowledge, sending them a check would tip them off to your activities. Hmmm. What to do? Why, just cash those checks yourself.

    I’m thinking there may be criminal activity buried in this situation.

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  32. I was appalled by this editor’s response. I wonder what UK and AUS variations of the copyright laws are and if they differ. It’s terrible what people think they can get up to because work is online and not in print.

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  33. I’m pretty shocked by the editor’s response. I would be very frustrated if someone talked to me like that after using content I created.

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  34. I so agree with you in this matter. In my country there are copy right laws, but almost no one follows it, Well its time for original authors,to be aware more about it ourselves and prevent our articles and works from getting stolen and prevent getting published in some other fake person’s name.
    This article is a powerhouse!
    Thank you!

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      1. Thank you for your suggestion!
        I live in Nepal, small South east Asian country. Guess!! you have heard about Land of Himalayas and Mt. Everest, I will surely do something about the copyright thing to raise awareness!
        Come to Nepal, I am sure you will definitely enjoy!!
        Thank you once again.

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  35. I am glad I came across this blog. I recently setup a blog for Toastmasters and one thing I would like to do is book reviews on communication and leadership. I am not sure of copyright laws as it relates to book reviews. If my understanding of the blog is correct, even to review someone’s book, I would need their permission?

    Thanks.

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    1. I think that falls under fair use — critique. Check the section on fair use in the US Copyright Office FAQ. You can certainly use limited quotes from the book to make a critique. Just be sure to link to the author’s website and/or Amazon (or some other online vendor) so your readers can get more information and the author benefits.

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  36. Thank you so much for this insight. I started teaching my middle school students about “stealing” from the Internet. They are slowly but surely getting it. This is such great information.

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  37. Great post! And it clearly identifies what is and is not “Public Domain.” Thank you for that. And as for that “editor,” it’s hard to believe that someone in the industry can actually respond in that way. What a sad, disgraceful situation. So much for her career!
    Without copyrights, what in the world would a creator have?

    Congrats on your FP!

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  38. Love this post. Part of the issue is that the internet was created as a sort of Wild West, and people tend to go with that mercenary attitude. I’m a music reviewer, and I’m careful to use small, single images of record covers so as not to violate the fair use of those images. As a lover of the arts, the last thing I want is for my actions to hurt the artists I’m writing about (even if they’re terrible!)

    @ Erica: What you’d need permission for would be lengthy excerpts. Be sure that whatever you’re reproducing is fair use! The action of review itself is merely a discussion of ideas, and is (your) original content, not a reproduction.

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    1. I agree, fair use helps to make the law more reasonable both for the creator (who generally benefits from its application) and the blogger/reviewer. Thanks for adding to the discussion and helping Erica out with her question.

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  39. As soon as I heard that some bloggers were being sued over other things I began to realize how serious blogging is to the world. According to the publishing world bloggers are considered press and therefore in some conventions given press passes.

    Now I’m more careful and use disclaimers, give credit, etc. I’ve always linked back to the original work. There’s also a limit of how much of the quote you can use according to copyright laws.

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    1. Bloggers are the new media. Many traditional journalists use blogs as their platform for news-reporting and investigative journalism. Another area for bloggers to heed — FTC rules on sponsorship, freebies and disclosure. Rules have changed, thank goodness, but many aren’t aware of that. Could be a topic for another blog post once I brush up on that.

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  40. Very informative post and useful links. Thank you! I have long been overly cautious in my writings since taking a few scientific research classes in college. It was imperative to properly quote resources and give accurate data or your research reports would only make it to the trash. In most cases, I think that using other peoples writings, thoughts, or ideas without recognizing the source is equivocal to stealing or claiming research data your own.

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  41. Another good site to go for art is deviantart.com, the artists who submit to that site choose whether they want their art as free use or not, so you can find the level they are willing to share their work very easily.

    Also like sandyconnor, I have a science background so the importance of giving proper citations to your resources is really important to me. At the same time as a new blogger understanding the legal aspects involved is really important. I quote a literary author in almost every blog I write, so I need to make sure I have all of them linked properly.

    Thanks for your post!

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    1. Thanks, that’s a good source to know about. They also have a page on copyright — the link is at the bottom of their home page.

      I’m a history major. My professors were very clear about copyright, plagiarism and ethical paper writing. Good habits start young. Thanks for adding to the discussion.

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  42. Thanks for this!

    I am taking a marketing class and just learned about SEO (search engine optimization,as you probably know!)and were given a list of Artice Submission Sites. Do you lose copy right when you post to these sites?

    I recently posted the full article and pic of an author on my blog. She was already a “guest blogger”… I didn’t put any links however, but took no credit for her work.

    Also, clip art and photos from the MS site are they useable in publications? I just put a bunch in a manual I am formatting…

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    1. I know about those sites but I’m not familiar with them. I would suggest checking the Terms of Service on any site to which you post your work.

      Did you ask your guest blogger if you could post her article? I would suggest including a link back to her original work after you get her (retroactive) permission to post it. I would think that you’d want to share the spotlight with her and not use her work only for your own purposes.

      Once again, check the terms of service on the MS site, or any ‘rights’ section of the art or photo page. Be careful out there.

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  43. Thanks for this! I’m copying/pasting (with your url of course =) into my personal records for future reference!!

    …as if someone wants to steal my stuff LOL, but you never know!!

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  44. Thanks for the great information. Several months ago when I started my blog in WordPress, I was using photos from the internet. It wasn’t till recent I began noting their URLs. Your tip reminds us that not everyone wants (or permits) their work to be re-used. Thanks again for the reminder. Congrats on Freshly Pressed! LB

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  45. Does CC protect my work at all? I really don’t think so. Because as long as my work isn’t registered with any Copyright office, the CC logo will work just like a plain © , am I right?

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    1. Creative Commons is used to share your work, not protect it. When you use CC, you are allowing people to use your work as long as they give you attribution. You can also specify whether your work can be altered or not, and used for commercial reasons or not. I just found this blog post yesterday if you want to learn more: A Primer on Creative Commons.

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      1. You missed my point. Imagine I am not allowing anyone to share my work without giving proper attribution and I’m also asking not to alter it. But if someone does share my work without attribution and alters my work as well, what then? There’s nothing I can do. So, what’s the use of CC?

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        1. I see what you mean. Yes, you’re right, CC isn’t meant for protection, it’s more of an announcement that it’s okay to use this work as long as you credit me, etc. But just like the (c) symbol, it doesn’t prevent the work from being stolen. I would think it’s a small percentage of people on the web who actually understand how copyright works, probably less understand CC.

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  46. Thank you for this information. I can not believe those words came out of someone’s mouth. The audacity! I’m glad the author discovered it.

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