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What Bloggers Should Know About Copyright

As a blogger, it’s important to know about copyright law. You don’t want to get yourself into legal trouble by infringing on someone else’s copyright. In this blog post, we will discuss what bloggers should know about copyright and how to avoid any legal issues. So, whether you’re just starting out blogging or have been blogging for a while, be sure to read this post!

Copyright Applies Automatically

One important thing to know about copyright is that it applies automatically. That means as soon as you create something, it’s protected by copyright law. You don’t have to register your work with the government to put a copyright notice on it.

However, there are some benefits to registering your work with the government. For example, if you register your work, then when suing someone for violating your copyright, you can win what is called statutory damages. Whereas if you don’t have your copyright registered you can only potentially recover actual damages and any money gained by the person who used your work.

DMCA Takedowns

DMCA stands for Digital Millenium Copyright Act it was established in the late 90s and it’s the Government’s attempt to catch up to the internet.

If you find that someone has stolen your content, you can send a DMCA takedown notice to the site owner or host the site is using (ex. BigScoots). This is a formal request to remove the infringing material. If you don’t see the results you want, you can also file a DMCA complaint with Google.

Related: What to Do If your Blog Content is Stolen

Copyright Licensing

If you want to allow others to use your work, you can do so by licensing your work. There are different types of copyright licenses, so be sure to choose the one that’s right for you.

For example, if you’re licensing a photo to be used on a website, you would want to choose a Creative Commons license. There are many different Creative Commons licenses, so be sure to read through them carefully before choosing one. Fortunately, they do a great job of explaining each type of license.

Ultimately you can choose how you do or do not want to license your work and there are lots of different tools out there to help you manage your licenses.

What you Cannot or Can Do with Copyright

You cannot copyright an idea, but you can copyright the expression of that idea. For example, you cannot copyright the idea of a blog post about dogs, but you can copyright the actual blog post itself.

You also cannot copyright facts or short phrases. So, if you’re blogging about your dog, you can’t copyright the fact that your dog is a labradoodle. However, you can copyright your original thoughts and opinions about your dog.

You also can’t copyright information that is commonly known. For example, you can’t copyright “the sky is blue” because everyone knows that the sky is blue. 

Generally speaking, you can only copyright original content that you create.

Social Media Terms & Copyright

When it comes to social media, there are a few things you should know about copyright. For example, if you’re posting someone else’s photo on Instagram, you need to get their permission first.

While reposting on an Instagram feed is a common practice, unless you have permission to do so you are violating their copyright as well as Instagram’s terms of use.

It’s important when you sign up for a social media account that you review their terms, especially around the topic of copyright. Do you retain copyright ownership if you share something on the site? Or does the site now own it?

Using Another Blogger’s Content

If you want to use another blogger’s content, the best thing to do is ask for their permission first. Most bloggers are happy to share their work, as long as they’re given credit.

Some go as far as to outline this type of permission in their site terms. They usually do this to avoid having to respond to tons of requests. So before you send a request, check their terms it could save you both time.

But unless you have permission, simply linking to the source or giving attribution does not resolve you of wrongdoing (aka copyright infringement).

Bottom Line

To sum up, as a blogger it’s important to be aware of copyright law. By understanding the basics of copyright, you can avoid any legal issues down the road. Just remember, if you’re ever unsure about something, it’s always best to consult with a lawyer.

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