Blogging Basics – Is Copyright Important?
Copyright matters is blogging basics!
By: David Wees
Originally, in my blogging basics series I was going to continue last week’s post about photography (see Using Perfect Photos – Blogging Basics ). My focus changed this week because of an incident that happened to me Monday evening. I briefly talked about images and copyrights in my last post. I didn’t realize how relevant that topic would become in my life.
One of the blogging basics is having your site listed in the Google search engine. One of the fastest ways to NOT have your site listed by Google is to have complaints about copyright violations that you have committed. If you are already listed in Google they can and will remove posts from their site for these violations and if the infractions are bad enough they can stop listing your blog. Copyright infringement is serious business and should NEVER become something a blogger forgets! Google can even remove a person’s personal account from all of their services.
If a blogger is to follow copyright laws you first need to know what copyright infringement means.
What is copyright infringement?
As a general matter, copyright infringement occurs when a copyrighted work is reproduced, distributed, performed, publicly displayed, or made into a derivative work without the permission of the copyright owner.
Source: Copyright - U.S. Copyright Office
One of the blogging basics a blogger should know is that you are responsible in learning about copyrights. I am not an attorney but I am trying to become more familiar with the laws and my rights. In 1998, the president signed the DCMA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act) into law. The DMCA helped to clarify that a copyright pertains to online material and there are penalties for improper use of digital content (it is something a blogger should learn about).
Most bloggers want to know, “Is my work copyrighted?” and the simple answer is yes. According to the U.S. Copyright Office a copyright protects, ” original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression” (17 U.S.C. § 102) A copyright is in place the moment we write an article and save it (original work not reblogs). Bloggers can display a copyright notice on their site stating that their work has a copyright (it is not required but helpful in legal matters). If you do get a copyright through the copyright office it provides more legal protections and possible monetary damages.
Blogging Basics Learned
Three days ago I was doing some basic research about my website, dadblunders.com. My site had been recently listed by the DMOZ and I was checking on inbound links because of the new listing (most bloggers check). During my research, I found that I had duplicate content listed in the Google search engine. Bloggers are naturally curious and I am no different so I went to investigate the duplications.
The duplicate content was listed for sale on the brokencontrollers website (if you decide to visit them do NOT click on their flash items). Brokencontrollers is a known site scraper that attempts to “hijack or steal” traffic from other sites to boost its ratings in google (if you decide to visit them do NOT click on their flash items). While I was on their site I clicked on something and it gave my laptop a virus (from their website). A virus I continue to fight on my laptop and the reason I haven’t made a post in the last few days.
I have mentioned in the past, blogging is about building relationships and helping each other. I decided to check out a few of my friends to see if they had posts on brokencontrollers. It didn’t take me long and I found posts from The World 4 Realz and Like a Bump on a Blog. I contacted them and shared the information. Between the three of us we had our blog posts removed. I would have checked more sites and probably will again but the virus has limited my computer abilities (I am using my wife’s computer). I thought I would offer a few tips and suggestions on the steps we took against the other site and what I learned in the process.
Sharing is Learning
1. Search - If you want to know if the site that stole our posts has you listed you need to go to Google search engine and type in brokencontrollers/[your URL]
2. Examine - If nothing comes up in the search engine you are probably okay. If you do see items in the list with brokencontrollers listed as the main URL (it will also have the title of your post) they are using your article.
3. Responsibility - It is the bloggers responsibility to contact the owner of the site that is using your material. It is important to tell them they need to remove the content because of copyright (we also told them we would take legal action if it happened again). My friends, Jesse and Andi, at The World 4 Realz found who we needed to contact [[email protected]]. We received a quick response from the other site saying that they removed our posts.
4. R.S.S. Feed – My post was most likely taken from my R.S.S. feed. Amberr, from Like a Bump on a Blog, recommended a possible change to my R.S.S feed by having it show only a summary of my post (instead of the entirety). You should also make sure that the your R.S.S feed adds a link back to your blog post showing the article was first seen on your site (I use Yoast WordPress SEO to do this)
5. Google Alerts - Set-up Google Alerts Monitoring. Google Alerts is a free service offered by Google that watch’s the latest results from around the web. I am monitoring my entire URL, the name of my blog, my real name (with and without my middle name) and I just started taking a snippet of my blog posts from the middle of new posts that I publish (it is less likely someone will change content in the middle of a post).
6. Site Monitoring - You can also use Copyscape to double-check Google Alerts Monitoring. Copyscape has a free search engine that you can use to check to see if a posts appears on another site (the also offer a paid services to watch your site).
I work very hard on sharing information with other people. I have been known to give away ideas to other bloggers. I believe in the blogging community and I have a basic principle to help others. As a father, I want my son to know the difference between right and wrong and selling my articles without prior authorization is wrong.
Copyright infringement is a very serious offense for a blogger! Do you have a copyright notice on your blog or posts? Did you do any research on copyrights and can offer any tips or suggestions that might help another blogger? Please tell me in the comments!
You can read my last post here: Daring Halloween Costumes – Could A Daughter Wear Them? If you like this post you can follow me on facebook fan page at Dadblunders.
Tags: copyright violations
, derivative work