In the past, I’ve provided some examples of what not to do in the world of copyright and exposed some common copyright myths. In this post, I’ll present a more proactive view of copyright law and help you understand a few of the basics so that you can better appreciate this important area of the law for the blogging community.
Here are some rules to live by.
1. Get Permission.
This seems like a total no-brainer so I’m always surprised when some people just don’t seem to get it. If you see something somewhere that you think would enhance your blog or other social media efforts, ask for permission to use it. Most people will be flattered that you find their content useful and that you want to promote it for them. Getting permission can save you a lot of problems later on so use this approach as often as you can.
2. Provide Attribution.
While not always necessary, if you use content from somewhere or someone else, provide attribution. Provide a link back to their website or their blog or to wherever the content came from. However, don’t think that just because you provide attribution means that you don’t need to get permission or establish that the content is otherwise available for your use. That’s one of the “zombie myths” that I debunked in my last post.
3. Create Your Own Content.
Once again, this seems pretty simple but so many people miss the boat. You’re a creative person! Use your skills to create something great to share with other people and then share it. As long as you create something that is original to you, you can use it anyway you want and you won’t have to worry about any claims of copyright infringement. So get those creative juices flowing and see what you can come up with.
4. Protect Your Content.
For maximum protection, you can register the copyright in your original materials with the US Registrar of Copyrights. Even though you own the copyright in your materials as soon as you create it, registering the copyright can provide you with significant benefits such as the ability to recover your attorney fees from the infringers in litigation. You can also claim enhanced damages (think more money) if you register your copyright early in the game. You don’t need a lawyer to register your copyright but it can be a little bit tricky so be sure that you understand the process before you get started. You can learn more about copyright registration by checking out the content at copyright.gov.
5. Learn About the DMCA.
At first glance, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) may seem like a scary thing but it’s actually pretty helpful for bloggers and other creative individuals. It can provide you with an important tool to protect your content from being used online without your permission. The DMCA is a relatively cheap, easy, and fast process that may resolve your problems in short order without breaking the bank. You can learn more about the DMCA by reading one of my previous posts here.
Remember – Be Smart. Be Legal.
Disclaimer – Yes, I’m a lawyer, but I’m not your lawyer. All information in this post is provided for educational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice for any person or specific situation.