What Every Blogger Should Know about Copyright Protection

Thursday, November 21, 2013

What Every Blogger Should Know about Copyright Protection

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What every blogger should know about copyright protection from www.anyonita-nibbles.comGetting your head around your  copyright protection is one of the best things you can do for your blog. Understanding what you are entitled to and how to display your copyright notice helps to identify your blog as an authoritative work and clears up any confusion readers or companies may have about your content and working with you. Copyright infringement happens and if you have a blog that is read by at least one other person it probably has or will certainly happen to you--whether on accident or purposefully. 

"Imitation is the highest form of flattery." That's what my mother used to tell me as a child when I would get upset that someone was copying something I did or said. That may be true, but after I've put my time, effort and energy into a blog post, photo, printable, tutorial or recipe, you can be damn sure I want recognition for it! Not because of an unhealthy need for attention, but because no one likes to feel like their contribution has been received ungratefully. And I've got news for you, blogging shouldn't be a thankless task!   

This tutorial seeks to answer some of the questions bloggers have surrounding copyright policy. I'll show you how to write a copyright notice and how to get a free Creative Commons License for your blog that displays the ways your content can be used and distributed. We'll also talk about what to do when your copyright is infringed upon, because if you have a blog of quality, it's only a matter of time before that happens! 

Don't forget to download my free Thanksgiving printable while you're here! These whimsical and fun food flags will liven up your Turkey Day tablescape! 

Free Thanksgiving Mini Food Flag Printables from www.anyonita-nibbles.com

Before we jump in, let me share with you the comment that inspired this post. The lovely +Ruth Cataldo asked, "I have a question though, I notice that you (and many other bloggers, have a copyright notice and 'all rights reserved' notice on your blog.  What does that actually do??  Did you have to do anything legal to get that, and does it actually protect your work?? Could you write a tutorial on that please????"  Well, Ruth, this one's just for you! I hope it's helpful!
Is my blog copyrighted?
Ruth (and a great many other bloggers, no doubt) will be happy to know that technically speaking, once you hit the publish button, your blog post is already protected by copyright. That's right, a blog post, photograph, tutorial, painting, poem, lyrics, recipe--any work--is granted a copyright the moment it is fixed into a tangible medium of expression.

Rest assured that you are indeed protected by copyright laws even if you do not have an explicit copyright notice on your blog. Although that is the case, it is my recommendation that you do post a copyright notice, however!

Displaying your blog's copyright notice
A properly written copyright notice makes your blog look professional. It says to potential brands looking to work with you that you: 
  1. Produce quality work that is worthy of respect by your peers and
  2. Stand by the projects or products, recipes or tutorials, printables or freebies that you do share.
Having a copyright notice and the "all rights reserved" statement that Ruth mentioned also makes it clear who the work belongs to, and adding stipulations for sharing, emulating or modifying your content informs other bloggers what you deem an acceptable means of using your work.

What you need in your copyright notice
Copyright notices do not have to be lengthy and full of legal jargon that the average person would struggle to understand. In fact, there are only four elements that you really need in your copyright notice: a copyright symbol, your name, the year(s) and a clarification of rights.
  1. The Symbol
    The copyright symbol © is a universal icon signifying that a work is protected under copyright laws. To add it to your blog, simply use this HTML: andcopy; . Be sure to replace the word "and" with an ampersand (&) and to insert the semicolon at the end. Alternatively, you can just enclose a lowercase c in parenthesis, like so: (c).
    If you want to add the copyright symbol to a document in Windows, hold down the ALT key + 0169. On a Mac, the OPTION key + G will produce the copyright symbol.
  2. Your Name
    This does not have to be your legal name. It can be a pseudonym, a nickname or your blog's name. The only requirement is that it is a name that can be traced back to you as an individual.
  3. The Year
    Simple enough. The year is whatever year it is at the time of publication. For a blog, or a website with content published over a period of time, you can use the year of the first publication with a hyphen and the current year. So, since Anyonita Nibbles was first published in 2010, the year section of my copyright notice looks like this: 2010-2013.
  4. Clarification of Rights
    This is where the "all rights reserved" bit comes into play. This is the most encompassing way to copyright your work and I advise you to use the phrase "all rights reserved" in your notice and follow it with an addendum in the form of a Creative Commons License.
What is nice to have your in your copyright notice
There certainly isn't a requirement for you to include terms of use or a Creative Commons License in your copyright notice. But doing so can clarify what you find to be an acceptable use of your content and could help to support your evidence when someone breaches your copyright.

Where your copyright notice should be placed
There is no need to publish the copyright notice on every blog post or every page of your blog or website. I think the best place for it is along your sidebar. People rarely scroll down to read people's footers on blogs, so you would be best off putting it in your sidebar.  

Generating a Creative Commons License for your blog
Do you want people to be able to legally copy aspects of your blog whilst still adhering to copyright policy? Are you okay with posting content for use by anyone? Maybe you want people to be able to share your work but you don't want them to have the right to modify it without asking your permission? 

You can stipulate any or all of this by getting a free Creative Commons License for your blog. Just visit the Creative Commons website and follow the three on-screen steps for determining what type of license is best suited for your content. Once this has been established, simply copy and paste the HTML code they provide into your existing copyright notice. Here's how my copyright notice with my Creative Commons License looks:
Copyright Policy and Notice of Intent
© 2010-2013, Anyonita Nibbles Anyonita Green, All Rights Reserved. All content published on www.anyonita-nibbles.com and www.anyonitanibbles.blogspot.co.uk and content written by Anyonita Green under the guise of Anyonita Nibbles on third-party websites and blogs is the sole property of Anyonita Green and cannot be used without express written permission. Please do not modify or copy and paste content as excerpts or in its entirety including recipe instructions, tutorials, photographs, graphics, printables and other text without permission. Please refrain from copying and pasting verbatim text from this blog to populate the description box on Pinterest pins originating from Anyonita Nibbles.
Creative Commons License
Anyonita Nibbles by Anyonita Green is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License
Help! Someone has breached my copyright notice! 
Remember when I said earlier that if you have a blog of quality, you can pretty much guarantee that your copyright notice will be breached? This has happened to me quite a few times since I have been blogging. People have copied and pasted my copyrighted recipe instructions into the information section of a pin on Pinterest or they have pasted them into their own blog post. 

People have used quotes from my blog on forums without crediting back and have done so in such a way as to pass off the information they were sharing as their own instead of my work. There have been legitimate accidental copyright infringement cases and there have been blatant copyright infringement cases. No matter if it was on purpose or not, the steps you should take are the same:
  1. Identify the culprit(s)
    Find out all you can about the person and the instance where they used your copyrighted material without proper attribution or permission. Gather their contact details and take screenshots or photos of the copyright infringement to back up your case before you contact them.
  2. Get in touch with the original culprit(s)
    You can email them, write a letter, leave a comment on their blog post, send a Facebook message--anything you need to do to inform them about the infringement. During your correspondence with them:
    • inform them that they have infringed upon your copyright plicy
    • ask them to remove the work in question or to amend their post to include your name and a link to your blog or specific post as the author/owner/creator of the work in question
    • keep all evidence of your correspondence
     You've done all that and still no dice? Next steps:
  3. Compile proof that the material in question is your intellectual property
    s can include screenshots of the original content with a time stamp displaying when you first published it. (This is why leaving your blog posts dated is such an important part of blogging.) If it is a photo, you'll want to get the details of the photo (upload the original photo to Google Web Albums and you'll see on the right hand side, the date of the original photo). Keep this information in case you need to refer to it at a later date.
  4. Send out a cease and desist
    A C&D is simply a formal letter that says, "If you do not stop doing xxx, then I will xxxx." Usually, this tends to be enough to encourage the culprit to either remove or modify the content, but if this doesn't work, then, it's time to send in the big guns!
  5. Request a ban from search enginesIn 1998, a little law was put into practice call the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and, in a nutshell, this law says that if you contact the online service provider or a search engine and notify them of the copyright infringement, that they should work for you to stop the infringement by putting a ban on the blog or website in question. Anyone can use this service. Read more about the act.
  6. Seek legal advice
    Getting legal help for your copyright infringement won't necessarily be hard or time-consuming. In most cases, people should amend or remove the work in question before you get to this stage, but if they are being uncooperative, legal help should be your next move. A lawyer with experience with copyright infringement can advise you on the best course of action as well as help to chase up the violator and expedite things so that a solution is reached.
Pinterest & copyright infringement
When Pinterest first grew in popularity, one of the big issues surrounding it was the potential copyright infringement. By pinning images or content from a website or blog onto a Pinterest board, you could be infringing on someone's terms of use for their work. 

It's not always clear the sites that don't want their work on Pinterest ( I believe this is a small number as many have come to realize the great benefit that being on Pinterest provides), but if this is the case, Pinterest has steps in place for the unhappy owner of the work to contact them directly. 

If you have pinned work to Pinterest and are approached by the owner, requesting, that you delete the pin for copyright infringement, advise them to take up their complaint with Pinterest. There is a little flag icon on the bottom right of all Pinterest pins where the owner can state that the pin in question violates their terms of use. For this to work, those terms of use must be clearly stated on the website the pin originated from. 

Users copying text verbatim to populate the description box on Pinterest pins
This is an issue that I have experienced first hand. I happened to come across a pin someone had shared of content from Anyonita Nibbles. In the description box of the pin, she had copy and pasted the recipe instructions verbatim. Because Anyonita Nibbles uses rich pins, the ingredients were already listed. By having the entire recipe on the pin, people wouldn't need to visit my blog to get it. 

In my opinion, the point of Pinterest isn't to prevent people from needing to visit external websites. It's to encourage them to do so by providing a snippet of enticing text. I notified Pinterest of the copyright infringement and within 72 hours, the pin was removed. 

When bloggers demand more citation than you have givenAbout two weeks ago, I received the following message:
 "My name is J*** and I'm an admin for the food blog P**** of Y**. I'm emailing you because I noticed that you've reposted an image from from P**** of Y**'s post "Skinny Chicken Enchiladas on [your blog]. That's okay; we just ask that you include two links on the page with the photo.
1) a link to the P**** of Y** homepage
2) a link to the [enchiladas] post

Thank you for making that change! Let me know if you have any questions.
This is my response:
"Hi J***,
I've included the Skinny Enchiladas as part of a Pinterest roundup and have linked in the pin from Pinterest which clearly links backs to the post already. There's not really an instance within that post for a link directly to P**** of Y** as you have requested and as a result, I will not be making any changes. If you are unhappy with this, please do let me know and I will be happy to remove the pin from the post altogether.
Thank you for understanding.
The bottom line is this: I have not infringed upon that blog's copyright notice because I did not copy and paste a photo from their site directly. I pinned an image which includes a permanent link back to their blog in the first place and simply shared that pin (not a copy of their photo!) on my own blog.

If the blog in question has a statement in their terms of use that says they do not want their content pinned and shared on Pinterest, then I would indeed be in violation. As this is not the case, there is no breach of copyright.

Speaking frankly, though, the thing that really annoyed me about that message from J*** was the assumption that I was going to populate the blog post with two links back to their blog. Why should I? I "used" one image and gave one link to the specific post that correlated to the image. There are other blogs featured in that roundup and they were all treated the same way. With one link back to the post. I think there is a difference in people being grateful that their work has been featured somewhere and starving for linkbacks.

If this happens to you and you have not infringed on anyone's copyright policy, stand your ground. If you have already provided a citation back, then there is nothing more you are required to do. After I sent that email back to J***, I heard nothing more on the subject. They did not contact Pinterest to have the pin removed because they clearly want the exposure being featured affords them.

Helpful Reading about Copyright for Bloggers
Creative Commons License
Legal Issues for Bloggers
World Intellectual Property Orginization

Want more blogging tips? Check these out:

What every blogger needs to know about copyright protection From www.anyonita-nibbles.com


  1. Hi Caroline,
    Oh no! What a horrible situation :( It's happening more and more frequently, though! :( Were you able to get it sorted? I'm glad you fond this post helpful, I just wish it wasn't because of such unhappy circumstances!

  2. thanks so much for this much needed info already applied it in my blog !


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