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