Do You Know How to Protect Yourself from Copyright Violation?

By: | May 24, 2016 | Tags: , ,

#Bloggers can protect themselves from copyright violation #bloggingAre your readers scared?

Mine are.

They are scared their work is going to be stolen.

Many people are also scared they will be falsely blamed for stealing other people’s writing and photos.

This post is guest-authored by my friend Michael Rios in his return to blogging after a long hiatus.

The article will offer you solutions that will end those concerns and include a surprise, unprecedented at Mostly Blogging.

Consider this a follow-up to another guest post, How to Know if You Have Committed Plagiarism.

When I read the comments on that post, I realized just how worried people are. When Michael Rios heard how concerned bloggers are about having their work stolen, he offered to guest post for our site.

Consider this comment from a reader:

Hi Janice,
Just would like some help on something since you give advice on blogging.
Someone copied my work and posted it on another blogging platform. I really need help. Please reply back as soon as possible.

This site has been home to many guest authors, but this guest post is different. For the first time, a guest-author addresses MostlyBlogging’s readers directly.

I give you Michael Rios.

The Value of Having a Blog Disclaimer

Why is it important to have this on your blog or website?

Whether you are a poet, photographer, or any type of artist, your work is yours, period!

#Bloggers can protect themselves against plagiarism.

Photo Credit: https://99designs.com

For example, let’s take this one iconic image that went viral, we saw it on T-Shirts, on posters among all other sorts of mediums.

Imagine you were the person that took this one photo that became history.

How would you feel when your photo, that lucky shot of a lifetime, slipped right through your fingers?  Suppose you had a special design or a piece of writing, or song etc., only to find that someone stole your design and is benefitting from it?

I don’t think anyone would appreciate that someone else is taking credit and gaining possible financial freedom.

Why You Need a Blog Disclaimer

Fortunately, there are some measures that we can take to protect our hard work and creativity.

  • By adding a simple statement on your blog or website, you can protect your work from others using your material and placing it on their blog or website.

Once we create anything and it is in a tangible form, it is in a sense [only] mildly protected without a copyright notice, but by adding a simple statement you can safeguard your work and reinforce others (honest ones) from the temptation of stealing your work! Let’s face it; nothing is really safe on the Internet.

  • Taking this a step further, if you notice someone who is using your material on their blog or website and not giving proper credit back to the original author (you), you can contact that person advising to provide credit or remove it.
  • If they do not (give it a reasonable time frame, not all of us are on the Internet every day), I would then find the contact information for their service provider and write to them POLITELY, informing them of the URL that is using your material without permission.

Recommended Reading About Copyright Infringement

Janice from Mostly Blogging has a great article on a related topic from a guest author located at https://mostlyblogging.com/how-to-know-if-you-have-committed-plagiarism/, and I highly suggest all to take five minutes of your time and read it.

Here are other good articles that can help us all in our community of bloggers:

This is from the Lorelle on WordPress located here https://lorelle.wordpress.com/2006/04/10/what-do-you-do-when-someone-steals-your-content/ and another article from Brad Templeton who also has a great piece of writing entitled, 10 Big Myths About Copyright Explained located here: http://www.templetons.com/brad/copymyths.html.

Is There Anything Else You Can Do to Be Safe from Copyright Violation?

OK, this is all great, but what if I really want more protection? Good question indeed.

  • While researching this topic and of hearing of a method of proving you are the original creator was to simply mail the item to yourself through the Postal Service.

This is known as the “Poor Man’s Method” and although some of us may have heard of it being done in old television shows and movies, this will not do anything for you in a court of law.

  • If you have that one special design, photo or a great piece of writing, then the only sure method of truly getting it protected is by visiting http://www.copyright.gov/ and creating an account which is the free part.

There are costs associated with ensuring proper protection of your work. Nicholas Wells, who is a trademark lawyer, has a great cut to the chase answer of how much it could cost to copyright your work.

The article is entitled, How much Does a U.S. Copyright Registration Cost? Which can be found here:

https://www.wellsiplaw.com/how-much-does-a-u-s-copyright-registration-cost/

This is an example of a copyright notice that anyone can use!

This is the one I use on my blog. I found this general Copyright Notice from a school’s website, and it stated it was free to use. Just replace my name and blog title with your own.

©Michael A. Rios and Michael’s Origins, 2016 (or 2014-2016). Unauthorized use and/or

duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s

author and/or owner are strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided

that full and clear credit is given to Michael A. Rios and Michael’s Origins with

appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

[Admin Blogger’s Note: This is exactly how I got my copyright notice you see in my right sidebar. Michael sent this to me, and I modified it.]

Here is another example that could be used

© [Full Name] and [Site Name], [Current Year or Year Range]. Unauthorized use

and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this

site’s author and/or owner are strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used,

provided that full and clear credit is given to [Your Name] and [Your Site Name] with

appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The funny part for me is that after all that searching I did to find one while writing this blog post I realized it was in my own backyard this whole time.

Source: https://en.support.wordpress.com/prevent-content-theft/

Admin Blogger’s Commentary

Michael is an integral member of the blogging community, and I am sure I speak for many others when I state that he has been missed. We are fortunate he returned to blogging to bring us these important instructions for how to protect ourselves against plagiarism with a copyright notice.

You can thank Michael by visiting his site Michaels Origins and welcoming him back to blogging.

Readers, please share, so everyone knows these tips for protection. As I indicated, I wouldn’t have known how to get a copyright notice to protect my writing from theft without Michael’s tips.

What do you think? Have you ever been a victim of plagiarism like my reader whose comments opened this post? How did you handle it? Do you have a copyright notice on your blog? Do you feel it has been effective in preventing you from being a victim of plagiarism? I look forward to your views in the comment section.

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  1. Kathleen - Bloggers Lifestyle | at 4:32 am

    Thank you for this helpful post on the important subject of copyright. I am really looking forward to seeing your videos on Janice’s site. Thank you also for referencing my post on this subject, very kind of you.

    Thanks Janice for hosting this post.

    Kathleen

    • Janice Wald | at 9:02 pm

      Hi Kathleen,
      Your post on plagiarism was actually a springboard for this post on copyright violation. When Michael heard about widespread interest in your post, he suggested writing this follow-up. Thank you for the inspiration and commenting today!
      Janice
      Janice Wald recently posted…Blogger’s Pit Stop #25My Profile

  2. Terri Webster Schrandt | at 6:33 am

    This is such an important post, Janice and thank you to Michael for providing the information. The same is true for using others’ images on our blogs. This is the “new” lawsuit. Even giving credit for using a photo can still be a big problem. Some bloggers have lost $$ in lawsuits even when they took the image down. Just better to use our own images on our blogs.

    • Michael | at 8:57 am

      ” Even giving credit for using a photo can still be a big problem”
      This is very true and though most of us try hard to provide proper credit, in the end it can still bite are rears off. Even for YouTube videos a person has to be careful on how they use work by another.

    • Janice Wald | at 9:08 pm

      Hi Terri,
      Thanks for writing. I agree. Michael wrote an important post. Do you want to hear something amazing? It was already reblogged three times within hours of publication!
      Thanks for reminding us of some of the horror stories that are out there we need to be cognisant of.
      Janice
      Janice Wald recently posted…Blogger’s Pit Stop #25My Profile

  3. Pam | at 10:12 am

    This article is so timely for me, because I just discovered that another one of my photos has been used on another site. It’s happened to me before, and I just asked the person to link it back to my site, which she did. This time, two people have used one of my photos, and one of them has removed it at my request, but the other one is not responding to me.

  4. Lorelle | at 10:21 am

    Thanks for including a link to my article on copyright in this article. I just want to clarify a few things as there is so much miss-information out there on copyright.

    First, you do not need a copyright notice or statement on your site. All original work, once published on the web (put into a “fixed state”) is copyrighted automatically. The copyright notice does not protect or change anything. It only serves as a reminder, and the copyright notice works best if it links to your copyright policy.

    What a copyright policy, something of greater value, does is specify what your copyright means. It defines it. Do you wish to release your work into the public domain where anyone can do whatever they wish with it? Or do you wish to restrict the usage to only non-commercial sites? Then define what a non-commercial site is? A personal site? A personal site with ads? A non-profit? Specific types of businesses such as not allowing tobacco or oil companies or other companies that might be in violation of your morals and values? You hinted at it in the short copyright statement, but this needs to be more specific, and specific to the needs of the author. For example, I will permit the usage of my words in a specific excerpt form, but not my images. Such specificity is critical to define your copyright policy.

    And if you permit some usage of your content, how much? Jonathan Bailey of Plagiarism Today is the leading expert in online plagiarism and copyright violations. He and I worked together for years and created a general policy that is slowly becoming a web standard to define copyright fair use: 10% or 400 words. It’s a good estimate to permit people to link and cite your material, as was done in this article for example, within the bounds of fair use.

    I’d also like to expand upon the point you make about finding someone abusing your content in violation of your copyright. If you find someone using anyone’s content and you know the usage is a copyright violation, leave a comment with the link to the original article that states this is not the original source, it is “here” and ask the site owner to remove or properly excerpt the content.

    Learning about how to excerpt and link is very important when it comes to blogging, something rarely taught but essential to know to protect yourself from potential copyright infringements on your own site.

    Thanks for spreading the word about copyright. It is an eternal effort and all help is appreciated.
    Lorelle recently posted…WordPress School: Copyright PolicyMy Profile

    • Janice Wald | at 9:17 pm

      Hi Lorelle,
      We are honored that the author of the article Michael referenced helped us understand this situation better. I found it reassuring when I read your comment that we actually don’t even need the disclaimer. What’s ours is still ours.
      Michael did a great job reminding people of what’s important.
      In response to your advice about what to do if someone has stolen your work, you advised telling that that it is your work and asking them to remove it. One of my readers, Pam, commented she has done that but is being ignored. What do I advise her to do? Thanks so much!
      Janice
      Janice Wald recently posted…Blogger’s Pit Stop #25My Profile

  5. Michael Noker | at 11:46 am

    See, as a photographer, I license everything I do under Creative Commons, because I figure people are going to use good things regardless of whether it’s stolen or legit. I just ask for credit.

    Anything I don’t want used by others I keep off the internet. And that’s kind of where I fall when it comes to watermarking images and using things like JavaScript to prevent downloading. If you don’t want it out there, don’t post it on the internet.

    • Janice Wald | at 9:23 pm

      Hi Michael,
      Great to hear from you. I don’t know why I assumed I wouldn’t hear from you anymore when you changed blogging niches. I am sorry I was presumptuous.
      In response to your comments, someone suggested I sell my photos. I would like to join an organization like that, but they charge, and currently I don’t have enough money to play with. It’s a goal, though, then I don’t have to worry about theft since I’ve already been compensated. I am one of your YouTube subscribers. Take care. Thanks again for the visit and the comments.
      Janice
      Janice Wald recently posted…Blogger’s Pit Stop #25My Profile

    • Janice Wald | at 9:24 pm

      Hi Michelle,
      So wonderful to see you. Thank you for the kind words about the article. I was so flattered that it was well-received. It was kind of Chris and Sally to reblog it. Take care. Thanks again for the visit and the comments.
      Janice
      Janice Wald recently posted…Blogger’s Pit Stop #25My Profile

  6. Peter English | at 9:53 pm

    Yes, stealing information is a big pain being faced by most website owners.

    While working for a client I discovered that a website had copies of our content plus that from several others. Stealing in plain-sight!

    One can disable copying content + disable page saving. But such people do devise ways of circumventing.

    I have just added a copyright notice to my website. That may or may not make a difference, but that is a start.

    Regards
    Peter
    http://www.xosam.com

    • Janice Wald | at 9:26 pm

      Hi Peter,
      Thank you for writing. Did you see Lorelle, the author of one of the articles Michael referenced, commented here? She said that copyright notices are not necessary. However, I am like you. I feel it’s a start. It shows our intent.
      Janice
      Janice Wald recently posted…Blogger’s Pit Stop #25My Profile

  7. Enstine Muki | at 12:20 am

    Hi Michael,
    Good to see you here and I must say this is an exciting topic you are treating here.
    I remember in 2012 when one of my sites was cloned by one user. I really got mad because almost everything I created (including font, graphics, css, etc) was found on the new site.

    When the guy found out I was going to get his site taken down, he removed the copy and replaced with is mediocre designs.

    Thanks for the resources you mentioned here. I look forward to the next video

    Enstine
    Enstine Muki recently posted…Scarcity Marketing: What is it? How does it increase conversion?My Profile

    • Janice Wald | at 9:29 pm

      Hi Enstine,
      Great to see you. Oh no, what a horror story. How did you get him to take it down? My commenter Pam has a similar situation, but she is being ignored.
      Coincidence that we both know Michael! Thanks for writing.
      Janice
      Janice Wald recently posted…Blogger’s Pit Stop #25My Profile

  8. Laura Lohr | at 1:09 pm

    This is such important information! I post lots of pictures of my family and I’d hate to see my photos being used by someone! Scary, scary stuff! Thanks for all you do, Janice! You provide a very valuable service to your readers with your tips!

    • Janice Wald | at 9:31 pm

      Hi Laura,
      What kind words about my site. Thank you! I agree. Michael wrote an important post. I worry too that someone will use photos of my children for inappropriate means. I agree. We live in a scary world. Great to see you. Thanks for the visit.
      Janice
      Janice Wald recently posted…Blogger’s Pit Stop #25My Profile

  9. Leanne | at 8:33 pm

    Really interesting information – I have the exact same copyright message in my footer (beats me where I found it – maybe here??) but it’s good to know that I’m on the right track. I’ve also gone back through all my archives and removed any images that weren’t my own – Kathleen was the final voice of “be careful” that I needed to make sure I wasn’t infringing on anyone else’s copyright – I didn’t want to be sued!!

    • Janice Wald | at 9:34 pm

      Hi Leanne,
      Thanks for writing. I don’t want to be sued either. I’ve started using BeFunky which connects to Pixabay. I read that if it doesn’t say Shutterstock, it’s free to use. However, I’m still nervous. I use to only use my own photos, but now I mostly do. Gulp! Do you know anything about free stock photos on Pixabay? Are they okay to use?
      Janice
      Janice Wald recently posted…Blogger’s Pit Stop #25My Profile

      • Leanne | at 10:57 pm

        Hi Janice – this is what the Pixabay site says: “All images and videos on Pixabay are released free of copyrights under Creative Commons CC0. You may download, modify, distribute, and use them royalty free for anything you like, even in commercial applications. Attribution is not required.” So I take it as definite that anything that isn’t Shutterstock is free to use (and I use them all the time!)

  10. Ruth Curran | at 11:56 am

    Thank you for this great information for bloggers. Since my puzzles are all photos (and all are mine or given to me with permission to copyright) I have to be very careful. Those puzzles and therefore those photos are how I make my living so that puts my need for caution at an even higher level.

    Amazing info and insight!

  11. LISA CARPENTER | at 4:23 pm

    Thank you for the info. I’ve had a copyright notice on my site since I started it in 2009. Perhaps I need to do a bit more, though, to ensure my words and photos are protected. Thank you for the nudge!

  12. Lois Alter Mark | at 9:08 pm

    Wow, thanks for all this important information. I have used that poor man’s copyright method in the past so it’s good to know I’d better not rely on that in the future.

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