Overviewhow copyright applies to blogs in very general terms.
This is a more detailed look at the things to consider if you want to protect your "stuff" (ie words, pictures, tunes, blog-design, code, etc) from being used by other people without permission. It covers:
- Deciding what restrictions you want to apply
- Telling readers what the policies are
- Physically stopping people from making copies of your work
- Making it obvious when your work is copied
Decide on your copyright policyThe first step in applying copyright to your blog is deciding whether people are allowed to make copies of your work, and under what conditions.
Many people initially say "it's mine, no one else can make any copies".
But some people want to share their materials and aren't looking for anything in return - hence the open copyright and Creative Commons approaches.
Other people are willing to share provided they get some of the credit for doing the work and/or some money. Both the Wall Street Journal (Curse of the Greedy Copyright Holders and Their Fee-Seeking Lawyers) and YouTube's Head of User Experience (Margaret Gould Stewart: How YouTube thinks about copyright - as presented at TED) have some pretty good arguments about how sharing can make more revenue in the long run. And thinking about what you might, realistically, do when someone breaks the law and makes a copy of your material may make a policy that allows copies-provided-credit-is-given more appealing.
Ultimately the decision about what policies to apply is yours - but you need to decide what policies you're going to follow before you can do anything about them.
Telling people what they can (or cannot) do
- If you don't want to give any general permissions, you might put text with the phrase "© YOUR-BLOG-NAME" in a prominent position.
If you have a designer template, then the Attributes gadget already has a field where you can put copyright, provided you haven't removed it. Or you may just want to add a text-gadget the same way you would add any other type of gadget - if you put it above or below your Blog Post gadget, then it will show up with every single post including ones that you've already published.
- If you are willing to give permission, but only on a case-by-case basis - say so. And tell people how they can get in touch to discuss using your work.
- If you are happy to give some general permissions (eg people can copy your material so long as they attribute it to you), you might investigate the Creative Commons options, and put a statement from them on your site. Their site has a automated tool for adding a gadget, or you may like to add the HTML to your blog yourself.
- To protect photographs or artworks, you could put a copyright statement right inside the image, either very obviously or as a faded-yet-visible watermark. That way, anyone who sees a copy that someone has made will know that they photos are really yours.
Stopping people from copying your workPhysically stopping people from being about to make copies of work is another approach.
One way to protect photographs is to save them as a fairly low resolution before you upload them: this means they look ok web-pages (yours and anyone else's), but have very low quality if people try to print them or use them in places like a newspaper. If you don't want to reduce the resolution, you can remove the ability to click on them, so that they don't open in a new window: this won't stop people who can read the source HTML behind your page, but it will deter your average photo-copier.
If you want to protect music you have composed or videos you've made, you might investigate registering your content with YouTube's Audio ID and Video ID system. This won't stop other people from making copies of your work in other places, but it will stop them from uploading copies (or derived works, eg their own video with some of your music) back to YouTube - or at least give you some options for saying what should happen if someone tries to do so.
Make copies obviousRather than trying to stop people from making copies, an other approach is to simply make the original source obvious to anyone who looks at the copy.
Cross-linking:Long-term Blogger-HAT readers will have noticed that I'm putting more and more links to related articles into each post. I started doing this to be helpful (eg did you know you can add a Facebook "like" or "send button" button to individual posts as well as to your whole blog?)), and to stop repeating myself. But it's also a good tools for discouraging determined copy-cats: they don't really want to link to me, so if they use my material they'll have to edit lots of links). And the casual or automated ones (who don't bother editing the links) just end up sending traffic to me.
Use features that are built into other file types:If you use your blog to distribute other items (eg templates, eBooks, diagrams), you might like to consider more subtle ways of either is telling people about the copyright provisions, or just giving yourself the credit for work you've done.
Example: one of my sites gives away planning templates that are made with MS Word and PowerPoint. I'm happy for them to be copied and changed, provided the copyright attribution is left intact. Microsoft's File / Properties feature has a link to my website in each template, and often in Windows Explorer these values are shown when someone hovers their mouse of the files. Over time I expect it to be a good tool for building the recognition of my blog.
"Signing" your RSS feedIf you put a statement, crediting your blog as the source into your RSS feed, then every single item that is posted has your blog-name attached: copycats either need to edit it out manually, or leave it in and show the world where they got their content from.
For example the line I have added to the feed of the blog you are reading right now is:
This article is © Copyright – All rights reserved - Blogger-Hints-and-Tips.
You may publish translated versions of this article on non-English language blogs provided you acknowledge Blogger-Hints-and-Tips as the original source.
Blogger has a feature for setting this up:
- Go to Settings > Other > Site Feed
- Add the words you want to use to the Post feed footer box,
- Click Save Settings.
Registering your work with a copyright-serviceThere are a number of services around that let you "register" the copyright for an item. This might give you peace-of-mind, or evidence to use in certain legal situations.
But it won't make any difference to whether people make unauthorised copies of your blog-contents, so I'm not going into details about it here.
The next article in this series, Dealing with people who have copied your work, has more detail about how these services work and what they're actually useful for - and suggestions about some other, possibly more useful, steps you can take.
Related Articles:Copyright, Blogs and Bloggers, an Introduction
Taking action when someone has made an unauthorised copy of material from your blog
How to add a gadget, using Blogger
Putting 3rd party HTML (eg a Creative Commons licence) into your Blog
Stopping the pictures in your blog from being "clickable"
Finding a Picture's location (URL) in Picasa-web-albums
Removing the Attribution Gadget from your Blog
Types of blogger template.