Copyright is the content producer’s constant companion. If you create content, you own it, and you want it to stay that way!
At the same time, many bloggers link to, quote, and reference other peoples’ work. Understanding where the line of copyright falls is essential if you and your blog are to stay on the right side of the law.
We all know that information — including images, video, music, or words — published online is not there for the taking.
My bare-bones rulebook for using other people’s content looks like this:
- Only use content that’s identified explicitly as being available for reuse under the creative commons or open content licenses.
- Always include a linked citation alongside the content I reference or reuse, identifying the creator and the URL of the original work.
- Contact the creator to let them know I’m reusing their content and appreciate their making it available.
You may also choose to identify the license under which the content was made available for reuse in your citation.
When I include a quote in a post, I make sure I identify the individual I’m quoting, and I always include a link to the source document from which I’ve obtained the quote itself.
These are the basic rules I follow when I’m using content created by others. But what about your own blog’s content?
The Blogger’s Copyright Checklist
This checklist should help you to ensure your blog is up to the basic copyright “safety standards”:
- Does a current copyright notice appear on every page of your blog?
- Do you watermark any unique images you own and have published to your blog with your blog’s URL?
- Have you secured content assets like ebooks, whitepapers, and reports, and do each of these assets carry your copyright notice?
- Have you set a copyright policy for guest posts that you publish on your blog?
- Do you request and agree to the copyright policies of any blogs you contribute to, either in a paid or unpaid guest arrangement?
Other Copyright Considerations
Deciding on your approach to copyright early in the piece can help you keep a handle on infringements of your copyright — and avoid infringing the rights of others. It can also affect the value of your property. For example, you might decide you’ll only publish completely unique content over which you own all rights, in a bid to ensure that when you sell the site in future, you get the best possible price for the content itself.
Prevention is better than cure. Sometimes protection is an insufficient deterrent, but in cases where your rights are infringed, you can always lodge a DMA takedown notice with the offending site’s host.
On the other hand, you may decide that you want to release some of your assets under the Creative Commons license, which “provide[s] free licenses and other legal tools to mark creative work with the freedom the creator wants it to carry, so others can share, remix, use commercially, or any combination thereof”.
Alternatively, you might use the Open Content license, which licenses content “in a manner that provides users with the right to make more kinds of uses than those normally permitted under the law – at no cost to the user.”
Are you concerned about others infringing your copyrights? What steps have you taken to protect yourself?
Continue reading this series of articles on questions surrounding blog content.
About the Author: Georgina has more than ten years’ experience writing and editing for web, print and voice. She now blogs for WebWorkerDaily and SitePoint, and consults on content to a range of other clients.