In our world of digital everything, copyright has become tricky business.
Every day we see widely adopted online practices that violate copyright.
Worse still, the Internet is full of copyright falsehoods and half truths that are mistakenly passed along, and believed to be accurate.
Misperceptions about copyright leads to copyright infringement, which hurts bloggers.
We’d like to set the record straight.
“No Copyright Symbol”? No Problem …
Let’s explore four common copyright myths, one by one:
- Copyright Myth #1 – Content without a visible copyright symbol or copyright notice is free to use.
Under the law, a work is copyrighted as soon as it’s created in fixed form.
Just because you don’t see a copyright symbol (©) or words, such as “All Rights Reserved,” doesn’t mean that the work isn’t protected by copyright. It is.
Before copying any or all, you must determine the content creator’s terms for reuse.
- Copyright Myth #2 – People are flattered when you republish their content with attribution. Asking permission is unnecessary.
While linking to someone else’s content is fine, copying is another story, even with attribution.
As flattering as you may consider it to be, not every writer is okay with your using THEIR content in service of YOUR business goals. Be courteous and ask. It’s the (copy)right thing to do.
- Copyright Myth #3 - You don’t need permission, if you’re just using a small excerpt.
Some people believe that you only have to obtain permission and provide attribution to the source if you’re taking more than a certain number of words or percentage of the original. Not true!
No matter how much or how little you “borrow,” you should ask permission and give proper attribution.
Even when you believe your reuse passes the “four-factor” test of fair use , you should still provide proper attribution or, better yet, obtain permission from the source.
After all, the creator’s notion of whether your use is a “fair” one may differ from yours. Better to be careful and up front than regretful later.
- Copyright Myth #4 – Google is a great place to get free images
Unfortunately, many people assume that the images that show up in a Google image search are free to use.
Not so! All of the images found on the Internet are copyright protected. Learn the image owner’s specific terms for reuse before using an image.
Some image creators make their images available for free reuse with attribution (for instance, Flickr Creative Commons has many images with that particular license).
There are also low-cost sources for image licensing, like bigstockphoto.com – as well as convenient WordPress plugins and tools that help you source images for your blog, website, or social use, such as Photodropper and Photopin.
There’s more to online copyright than just this, but these four copyright mistakes are so common, we wanted to set the record straight!
What other copyright myths have you encountered? Let us know in the comments!
Bonus! Free “Blogger’s Guide to Copyright Protection”
If you’re designing, creating or writing online, and want to learn more about how to protect your content, download our free “Blogger’s Guide to Copyright Protection”.
We’re going to clear up the title of this post right off the bat. It’s meant to be tongue-in-cheek, of course. A company devoted to promoting respectful use of copyrighted content and protecting digital content from piracy certainly isn’t going to advocate for content theft. However, since it’s usually the best written, most useful content [...]
A funny thing happened on the way to crowdsourcing a list of favored WordPress plugins from last week’s #blogchat. Halfway through the 54 page(!) #blogchat transcript, we discovered that there’s a lot more to know about plugins than just which ones to install. As always, some great advice was shared. Enjoy the tips and tweets [...]
There is no savvier blog community than the group that participates in #blogchat each week. (#blogchat is a spirited tweetchat among bloggers on Sunday nights, 9-10 pm ET, hosted by @mackcollier. It’s a great place to learn from other bloggers, discover new blogs to read and great new people to follow). This past [...]
The sun is out, the weather is warmer … … time for a spring tuneup, to catch up on things you’ve been meaning to address on your site! As a serious blogger, you already create unique, engaging content, promote your blog, and attend to SEO. Now, take a few moments to take a look “under [...]
Duplicate content happens. You may be aware that content theft can create duplicate content and search engine penalties for your website or blog. But, sometimes we inadvertently create duplicate content on our own websites, by not understanding content creation best practices! Recent search engine updates have made it more important than ever to identify and address duplicate [...]
Does your RSS feed inadvertently contribute to content theft? In a prior post, we talked about how peer pressure can work to fight online content piracy – particularly for naïve infringement. But peer pressure alone can’t always work. That’s because some content is stolen by bots and automated programs that scrape your RSS feed. Like [...]
The blogger’s online business toolkit seems to grow daily: advertising, affiliate sales, sponsored posts, selling products and services, consulting, speaking, selling books, and more. Whether you do ALL of those things — or NONE of those things — there’s one more revenue opportunity that is often overlooked. Make your original online content license friendly. [...]
Adjective. li·cense·friend·ly. Describes a website that simultaneously makes it (i) easy for users to license content and (ii) difficult for users to steal content. For example: “The Daily Planet sure is licensefriendly! I licensed an article for republication on my blog today with a single click and for only $5. That was a no-brainer [...]
Blogging takes incredible discipline and hard work. Leading blogger Chris Brogan (@chrisbrogan on twitter) famously wrote that it took him eight years to get his first 100 subscribers! Learning how to connect with readers, and attract a following may be the hardest part. But sooner or later, if you stick with it, you’ll find where your [...]
It seems that almost every day we learn of some new instance of online content theft. Some of it is unintentional – because people just don’t understand what content is OK to re-use and when. Sometimes it’s blatant thievery – people taking content that they haven’t created for their own purposes. So when it comes [...]
We’ve written previously in this blog about the concept of fair use under U.S. copyright law, and its impact on publishers and folks reusing their content. In addition, our licensing service helps publishers provide tips to readers for evaluating when permission should be obtained to reuse content. While copyright law in the United States has [...]
Sometimes, conversations about copyright veer into the realm of ethics and lawfulness, but today we’d like to have a more pragmatic conversation. If you publish online, you want people to spread your content. It’s also likely that being known as the source of what you write has a direct impact on your income. The messy [...]
Bloggers have an innate desire to share, exchange, and discuss ideas. The free exchange of ideas makes the blogosphere a uniquely engaging and inspiring place. One minute you’re reading a blog post that engages you, and before you know it, you are inspired to write your next post! What then informs our ability to share and [...]