Friday, October 15, 2010

Copyright, Blogs and Bloggers

This article presents a very short introduction to issues of copyright, and how they apply to bloggers and their blogs.

In most countries, the law says that as soon as you create something (eg write an article, take a photograph, draw a picture, compose a tune, draw a map, make a slideshow), you own the "rights" to it for for a certain amount of time, usually until a number of years after you die.  And they exist just because you created the item:  there is no need to register it in any way.

While the rights apply (ie the thing you created is still "under copyright") other people are not allowed make a copy of it - in any format - without your permission.  Once the rights have ended, the item becomes "public domain" and other people are free to make copies of it.

If someone does make a copy without your permission, then they are breaking the law and legal action can be taken against them.   How this happens (criminal charge, private prosecution, etc) is different from country to country.  But breaking copyright is normally a "civil law" issue, local law-enforcement officials (police, etc) don't get involved, and it's up to you to prove that you owned the rights in the first place.

Consequences for bloggers

In short, what this means for people who righr blogs is that:
  • You "own" the stuff (words, pictures, videos layouts, etc) that you create
  • If other people copy it without your permission, they're breaking the law
  • If people copy your stuff, it's over to you to do something about it - if you want to.
    • If you copy other people's stuff without their permission, you are breaking the law.

    Another important point is that copyright only applies to specific works, not to ideas.  For example:
    • It's not ok for someone to make a direct copy of your picture, but generally they can make a similar photo themselves and use it
    • It's not ok for someone to copy-and-paste a recipe that you invented, but it is ok if they invent a very similar item and type up the recipe themselves.

    Of course this is a very broad statement.  There are detailed laws about Patents (the legal way of protecting ideas), about derived works (creations that are based on a work, but not quite the same as it), and fair use.   These laws vary between countries, so it is impossible to go into any more detail about them here.


    This article contains general advice about the copyright issues faced by people who use Blogger.   It cannot cover every possible case or specific legal systems.  If you need legal advice about particular issues, consult a lawyer, ideally one who is familiar with copyright law in your country and/or internationally.

    Related Articles

    Protecting your blog from being copied

    Taking action against unauthorised copies of your work

    Assessing an idea for a new Blog

    Removing the Attribution Gadget from your Blog

    Types of blogger template.

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    1. Could you please confirm something for me? When you apply a copyright to your blog, it covers the CONTENTS of your blog? What about the name of the blog? Thanks.

      1. Kylie, it partly depends on the laws in your country - and I'm no expert. But I'm fairly sure that there's some exception that says you cannot copyright a very short phrase - the sort of phrase you'd use in a blog name. That said, you may be able to trademark it.

    2. And one question I definitely got after reading this. Why has the administration of regularly claimed that the classical composers' musical works belong to someone, usually, to some American companies? I mean the composers of the 16th-19th centuries, whose works are admitted as classical music belonged to all people equally. I play classical music and therefore this is a constant issue for me. As only I published my video where I am playing, for instance, Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) , at once the management of YouTube claims that through this home recital I break someone's copyright and shows me a long list of pretenders. This is insane! So, I have to object this claim and repeat over and over what is obvious: this is the classical music of 18-19 centuries! It's cannot be the property of some firm or private person nowadays! It belongs to all people!!! Finally, the YouTube administration admits this, but it takes quite a while. And you are never sure about a result ,though the situation is clear. Why it happens all the time?

    3. Would you please tell me how can I remove the phrase "Powered by Blogger" from the footer of my blog!