Tuesday, March 17, 2009


You will notice a new statement on the top right sidebar of my blog. I have added a copyright notice to alert any of my readers who are thinking of using my words or reposting my pictures that they need to ask permission first and be prepared to credit me if they do use my materials.

Recently, I was reading a blog and began to think that some of the entries seemed familiar--like I had written them myself. I pulled out my book, Growing Up in the Texas Panhandle, and found that a whole paragraph had been taken from one of my stories and inserted into the story I was reading on this blog. I scrolled down a bit farther and found a picture I had taken being used on that blog with a story similar to one I had written on my blog. Next I found a recipe and accompanying story that had already appeared on my blog. This continued through six different blog entries. Some of the materials came from my book and some from my blog.

Needless to say, my dander was beginning to "get up." I was mad, hurt and puzzled by this use of my materials without my permission. I have had several days to calm down since this discovery. I have done everything from rant to my family and fellow writers to consulting a lawyer about my rights. I am not quite sure what my next steps will be, but I feel compelled to share this story with my fellow bloggers as an example of what can happen when our writing is put "out there."

For more information on copyright infringement please go to Sharon Lippincott's blog at http://heartandcraft.blogspot.com/. In addition, Jane Ross, a freelance editor, says that “the material we post on our blogs is copyrighted as soon as we write it (even without registering it). Fair use would permit someone to use a very limited excerpt without permission—the main thing about fair use is that whatever copying is done must not damage the interests of the original author in their work. And if the copying is not fair use, then that is plagiarism, a dirty word in publishing and academic circles.”

Jane Ross says that many people just may not understand what copyright means on the web. After all, there is an awful lot of copying and reposting (especially of pictures) that goes on, on the web. People do it all the time, but, strictly speaking, this copying is often a breach of copyright.

Jane believes that, as bloggers, we should commit to using only pictures that we have permission to use. They could be pictures we have taken ourselves or that we have explicit permission from the photographer to repost (and that covers Creative Commons-licensed pictures, such as those on the creative commons area of the Flickr photo-sharing website). It is wise to always add a caption to any picture posted, saying who took it, and if it wasn't you, perhaps you could add a note: Posted with permission.

Says Jane, “I know all of this may seem unnecessarily pedantic, but as I say a lot of folks are blurry about what is acceptable copying. I feel that those of us who know what is or isn't acceptable need to educate our readers. We can set an example by always asking permission and crediting the author or photographer and making clear who is the creative mind behind the material we are publishing, whether pictures or text.”
© At Pat’s Place


  1. Your new notice is crisp and to the point. You've inspired me to add one to my site. So sorry you had this experience, and I feel certain it is working out for good ultimately

  2. Well, I must say that I am learning a few things through this process. Hard lessons to learn through.

  3. Unbelievable! (And I don't mean I don't believe you.)

    Did they actually present it as if these stories had happened to them?! That is some nerve!

    Did you comment on the plaigerism? Now I'm dying to know which blog so I can comment that I happen to know a fascinating woman who has had IDENTICAL experiences, worded PRECISELY the same way!

  4. I just learned about Sharon's blog and yours, and am grateful (though saddened) to learn of your problem. You were obviously stunned, just like I would be. One of my blog friends did it the right way this morning. There was a photo on my blog of a luna moth that she wanted to post onto her site with an attribution and link to my site. I happily granted permission. The idea that someone would lift your words like that is distressing. Good for you and Sharon for spreading the word. Thanks.

  5. Pat I can't believe that someone would actually do that. What nerve. Thank you for the valuable information.

  6. Hi Pat,
    I came over from Barbara's Serenity Gate and am glad I did. Thank you for sharing your story with us, I hope it will have a favorable outcome! With our work being so accessible on the internet, it seems best to take some precautions with copyright notices.

  7. Thanks for all of your comments and encouragement. I think this is something that we can all learn from.

  8. Pat, the timing on this is so amazing to me. I was using google just three days ago doing some research close to me.

    I am a photographer(Flashcat)and came across an internet newspaper. On its front page were two photos I'd taken at a city wide event.

    I know who I shared them with, but was not asked permission to make them available for publishing. To their credit, there was a credit line attatched.

  9. Herm, I agree with you that this is becoming a common thing. I have been searching Google for ways to handle the situation and have found many articles on web copyright infringement. So sorry about your pictures.

  10. I'm so sorry to hear this happened to you! Thanks for the info. As blogger friends we all need to note if we see posts and pics from our other blogger friends on a different site and tell our friends about it.

    I would like to think that bloggers have enough of their own stories and pics that they don't need to steal from the rest of us!

  11. I popped over here after reading your comment at The Serenity Gate. I really appreciate the explanation and the warning. Thanks.

  12. I am finally catching up and wondering what advice you had gotten. I need to update my side with a copyright notice! Thanks for blogging about this!!