Image: “Laptop“, by Christin Hume
How does intellectual property law apply to bloggers? In terms of the content they create, as well as the content they may find online and be tempted to use? Here is some clear and concise advice to make sure your blog isn’t breaking the law, and that your own copyright is being protected.
The Rise Of The Blog
The term “weblog” was coined in 1997. Today, shortened to “blog”, they have become a big part of online culture. We’ve come a long way since LiveJournal. In less than ten years (1999 – 2006) the number of blogs grew from just 23 to 50 million. By the end of 2010, this number had grown to over 152 million.
There is no arguing that blogging today is a popular form of expression and something of a modern phenomenon. Blog authors around the globe take time to craft their own content. Covering topics ranging from politics to travel, beauty to health, music to movies. In fact, if you can name it, there is probably a blog about it!
What Is Copyright?
The first important thing to know about copyright is that it is assigned to you by law at the point of creation in a tangible form. As a blogger, your words are protected as soon as you put pen to paper, or on your digital device. So if you snap an image for your blog, you own the copyright to that image. The only exception to this is when you are writing for or taking the image under contract to someone else, ie- if you work for them.
Do You Have To Register Copyright?
It’s also important to note that your work is protected with or without registration. There are some benefits to registering your copyright though. If you are a freelance writer or if content creation (even for your own personal blog) is a big part of what you do, a timely registration means you’re covered for statutory damages and attorneys fees if a legal dispute does occur. However, if the registration is not timely (i.e. is not made within 3 months of publication or is made after the fact of infringement), statutory damages don’t apply.
In being aware of your rights, it’s also important that you respect the rights of other bloggers and creatives! If you’ve written a great post but borrow someone else’s image without their express permission then you may be violating their copyright.
The blogging community is very strong, and in general, very respectful. However, these situations can occur and it’s best practice to audit your blog and to keep a log of any images and licenses you use. Also be careful when using images made available under Creative Commons. It’s also important to correctly attribute any images you use. Credit where credit is due.
Remember though, that posting with credit is not ok unless you have a license to use the image! Although ideas are not covered by copyright, if you’ve found yourself inspired by someone else’s blog or website, then it’s polite to link to them from your post.
Using an active protection service such as Pixsy means you can easily monitor your images for unauthorized use. Today, blogging can be more than a hobby. Taking steps to protect your content helps to reinforce your brand. It also sets a precedent amongst the rest of your online community.
Fashion blogger, Georgia, who runs Mapped Out Blog successfully claimed compensation using the Pixsy resolution service after we found her image being used without her permission. She wrote a post about the experience.
“I thought I probably wouldn’t have much of a problem with my images being used until I logged in and saw just how many of my images were being used on other websites! Thankfully, Pixsy makes it super easy to get compensation for these images”.
Spreading The Word
Bloggers are also using their platforms to help to spread the word about the pros and cons of creating and using online content. Usually having experienced image theft themselves, or having seen it affect their friends. Often creatives are notified of an unauthorized use by friends or peers. Pixsy spoke to prominent blogger Tara, who runs Taraustralis.
“While my friend was freaking out about stolen images, he came across @PixsyHQ on Twitter and they offered him advice and ultimately the help he needed. Overall, he got the company that stole his images to pay him for his work and the promise to never lift another image of his again”.
Tara was happy to share our advice with her community. In the hope of helping to unite bloggers in the fight against image theft. It is this level of awareness and willingness to come together as creatives. That will help change the current online culture of people helping themselves to content.
Know The Law
In short, ignorance of the law is not a defense. It’s important to take time to know and understand your rights and the rights of others. There are a lot of great online resources. Including the Pixsy Academy, where you can find easy to access information about both creating and using online content.
Is it time to start actively protecting your images? Give Pixsy a try!