The Importance of Copyright Law for Bloggers

Author

Sinoun Chea

If you’re a blogger, there’s nothing more valuable than the words you write. Thankfully, there’s also something that protects you from others just copying your words and taking ownership for them: copyright law.

We’re here to help you understand how it protects you, and how you also need to be wary of people who might use it against you.

Anything You Write is Copyrighted

Anything you write is going to be automatically copyrighted from the moment you post it online for everyone to see, according to copyright law. Be it a page about you, a new blog post, or a review, it’s yours by default. This actually extends even further: photographs, movies, art, and even architecture are also subject to copyright law (not that you’re going to be building any structures on your blog!).

Now then, while people can’t legally take ownership of your content, they can still use it in certain ways. They can take quotes of what you’ve written, and if you decide to give them permission, they’re able to host your content on their websites.

If you’re afraid of someone else taking your content, there are some ways you can protect yourself. This can be as simple as putting a small copyright notice that will warn users. Another option is to put a watermark on your pictures. If worst comes to worst, you can submit a takedown request through the DMCA.

Be Careful Using Images from the Internet

On the other side of things, as a blogger, you need to be aware of accidental copyright infringement, specifically when it comes to images. While you might think you can just take a random picture from google, all you have to do is link back to the owner, right?

It’s a bit more complicated than that. Swiping images haphazardly could actually give you some legal trouble.

The simplest way to avoid this is to send an email so that whoever owns the picture knows you want to use it, and ask them for permission.

Best case scenario, they’ll just ask you to put a link to their site. Worst case scenario, they don’t allow you to use it. A last possible outcome is that you’ll never get an answer back. In this case, we recommend avoiding using the picture just to be safe.

How To Use Free Stuff Safely

Thankfully, there is certain content you can use without hassle, everything that falls under the Creative Commons License. This license is actually quite common, and you can find pictures hosted on Flickr and Pixabay that use it. You’ll usually find a link or something at the end of the page that will inform you of whether or not an image is for Creative Commons use.

This special license means that all you have to do is what’s called an attribution. Attributions are just a fancy way to say you’ll cite the work. You can find the best way to attribute on the Creative Commons website, and depending on the content you use you may have to attribute it in a different way.

How To Use Copyrighted Stuff Safely

Remember that Creative Commons is a specific kind of license. This means that there still are certain restrictions, for example, content released under Creative Commons may not be for commercial use. Read up on the details and the specific license the owner is using, just to be sure.

Another option is to pay for the copyrighted material. This obviously depends on the site allowing you, but there are sites that host content specifically so you can pay for the license. This means you get the right to use them, but that doesn’t mean you’re the only one with the content. Again, check the fine print just to be sure.

So as a blogger, remember that copyright is a double-edged sword. It protects your intellectual material, but it also protects the work of others too. Whenever you are using content online, make sure that you’re using it in accordance with copyright law and the rights holder’s license.

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Sinoun Chea

I help small businesses do better online. When businesses thrive, people also thrive. #morethanjustbusiness

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