First off, let’s go over copyright. Are our blogs copyright protected?
Yes. Our blogs are copyright protected. As soon as you publish and your name goes on it, you are considered the author of that post, therefore the owner of the copyrights for that work. Where the intricacies come into play would be if you had to sue someone for damages, or do a “cease and desist”. You would basically have to prove that YOU DID IT FIRST. And with the timestamp that blogger marks your posts, that shouldn’t be hard.
For some background information, the copyright will actually fall under the copyright law that went into being in 1978. The fixed form. As long as your piece is in a fixed form, upon creation it is considered copyrighted. This basically means, the moment you print it out, post it, or mold it, viola’ – copyrighted. How does this apply to you? The moment you publish, your work is copyrighted.
You can proudly post a notice at the bottom of your blog, or your post that says this post is protected under copyright, held by you. And it would be true.
Now what is considered copyright? How do you know so you won't infringe on anyone else?
Can you copyright infringe on someone by accident. I mean they have to have a ton of reviews for Divergent that all say "This book was awesome!" Sounds viable, but really, it doesn’t happen “by accident” whole sentences and phrases need to be copied. That is copyright infringement. If I type a phrase:
“Divergent was the most intense, original and ridiculously awesome book I’ve ever read.”
And you type:
“Divergent was the most awesome, intense and original book I’ve read in ages.”
Similar but not a copyright violation.
What you can do without being in copyright violation:
Quote another person's material in the process of a reviewing that work. In the Copyright Act it says that you can quote a small portion of another person's work if you are doing so in the act of criticism of that work – i.e. a review.
You can take ideas, facts and notions. Copyright law protects the expression of an idea, the portrayal but not the fact or idea. So, for example if I were to write a book that had vampires that sparkle, while Stephanie Meyer could get her high priced lawyers involved, the idea of a sparkly vampire is not able to be copyrighted. Granted I AM NOT a copyright lawyer so people might disagree...this is a very sticky area – you are always seeing lawsuits popping up suing this person and that person for copyright infringement based on ideas. But, technically you can’t copyright an idea.
Putting this concept thing into play in the book blog world, while I would love to think no one would do this – technically another blogger could do a Book Blogging Q&A, name it Book Blogging Basics (or something like that) and I could do nothing about it. Or, they could host a What’s In My Mailbox instead of In My Mailbox on Sunday. This legally can be done. Now, can you host a Book Blogging 101 on your blog? No. I’ve named it, it is technically copyrighted by me.
Yet, the morals come into play here. If you are a friend of mine, we follow each other and I go to your blog and see that you have basically copied my idea and implemented it on your blog - say you now have a little girl in striped stockings sitting on a plush vintage chair reading...looks similar to my Parajunkee girl, but not enough to be in copyright violation (because I illustrated her, so she's mine). Yes, copying it the highest form of flattery - but I'm still going to be all kind of aggravated. Probably even a little more than aggravated. That is not cool. Use other's blogs to inspire you - do not use them as a road map.
Tips to know to stay away from copyright infringement:
Even if you republish a bloggers review and credit them, you can still be in copyright violation. You can only use copyrighted material if you have permission from the author.
Even if you are not using the material for commercial use you still could be infringing on copyright laws. If you don’t have permission, you can’t use it.
So, what happened to inspire this post?
It has actually happened a few times, but this is the most recent and you would think that people would be smarter about it, but it keeps on happening.
Reviewers that can’t seem to think of their own reviews will steal pieces of other’s reviews and use them in their own reviews. The thought is really kind of sickening when you think of it and it gets you to thinking. Do these people even read the books? Or are they just so hungry for more books and to post more reviews that they are literally just copy and pasting other people's reviews? That is f'd up to say the least.
But, then to play devil’s advocate…what if they are just overwhelmed? Going through a block and they use pieces and part of other’s reviews to sort of jump-start their own ideas. Do we feel bad for her? Now, granted it’s not right – but the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.
Whatever her intentions were though, it was done. Whole reviews were taken and republished as her own. And she was found out. It breaks down to this, people, you can’t take other people’s work and pass it off as your own, unless you pay for it or ask permission. When the person you stole from (yes, it is stealing) finds out they won’t be happy.
They call her out. Well Wicked Lil Pixie called her out. And to be honest, I’m all about it. Plagiarism isn’t cool. I don’t want my work stolen and I hope I have the balls that if it happens to me that I shout to the world about it. Thinking on it, I most likely would, never one to hold my tongue and you shouldn’t. We put a ton of work into these reviews – when someone comes along and just copy and pastes your work and claims that it is there own that is highly uncool, no matter what the notion behind it was. In fact it is theft. This person is a thief.
Would you steal form a store? Claim an object as your own even if you didn’t pay for it? It is the same thing. The same as ePiracy, downloading music from the internet and “free” copies of eBooks.
I give Wicked props for calling her out and you guys should do the same if you find someone stealing your work. We can’t allow things to happen like this. We can’t let our very friendly online community turn ugly. And again, on the same not of non-ugliness, for the thief in question, don’t harass her with mean emails and nasty comments --- just unfollow. Best way to shut someone up, if they don't have a readership, they can't get their message across. (I also have a few other suggestions, I'll talk about those in a bit). If you were one of the reviewers that had their post stolen, post about it. Let the world know. The more people that are aware of it, the more impact it will have.
Now, how can you protect yourself.
- One way is to enact some Google alerts with your name and maybe specific phrases you use.
- A second way is to do random Google searches for phrases in your posts. Don’t just search post titles, search whole paragraphs of the post.
- Then put a Creative Commons or Copyright phrase on your blog. http://creativecommons.org/
- Add a digital fingerprint to your RSS feed. This is a little phrase that only shows up in your RSS – so if someone hijacks your feed it will show up on their blog. Check out this article to do this: http://www.plagiarismtoday.com/2008/08/27/protecting-blogspot-feeds/
- There are also copyright enforcement tools such as http://copyscape.com/
- Another suggestion is https://fairshare.attributor.com/fairshare/ this one I actually like better and it gives you weekly reports
Once you find your blog has been infringed upon:
- CONTACT. Contact the violator and have them remove the content
- DMCA. Send a DMCA notice to the domain registrar or to blogger if they don’t have a custom domain. This might not work that well, but it doesn’t hurt to try
- REPORT. There are a few forums that you can do this to rally a crazy mob against them, http://www.intelproplaw.com/ip_forum/ is one of them.
- DUPLICATE. Send a duplicate copy notice to search engines, this could flag their blog as an abusive site and they would be black-listed in search engines – meaning they won’t show up – the dreaded Google Sandbox.
- SHOUT. Call them out. We are a small community. Word spreads.
- LAWYER UP. You could technically get the law involved and take a case against the violator.
The post that inspired this post: Wicked Lil Pixie's Plagiarism Isn't Cool
The blogger that is in question: Bea's Book Nook
We have to send a message that we won't stand for plagiarism and ePiracy. Bloggers like this give us all a bad name. Plagarism just doesn't happen. You have to consciously steal someone's work.
That's it folks. Talk Less. Read More. Don't steal. Happy Thusday.
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