Copyright tips for bloggers

November 20, 2019 By Julian W Off


This is not an article providing professional litigation advice on copyright and copyright infringements. You should consult a lawyer if you need legal advice. 

Starting a new blog, excited about posting all your awesome content on the internet, here are a few copyright guidelines that would make you a more informed blogger.

In the age of the internet, information is readily available. Just because something is free, doesn’t make it readily available for your use. Knowing what material you can use and adapt or include in your work will save you much hassle from copyright infringements. 

What is copyright? 

Copyright allows the creator of a content whether in the form of digital media, art, music, audio recordings and literary writings to be protected from content theft. 

Copyright grants the rights of ownership to you, the creator, through which you are entitled to use, reproduce, distribute and make profits. 

What is the term of protection for copyright? 

The term of protection by copyright law differs from country to country. Most typically, copyright terms of protection extend from 50-70 years beyond the lifetime of the creator. 

After which, the works would be classified in the public domain and made readily available to others free of use, very much like the free classics that you can find online. 

What constitutes fair use?

Legislators have realised that certain circumstances merit the direct lifting of material from its source. There is still much debate and grey areas as to what constitutes fair use and what is plagiarism. 

As of now, we would heed advice from the Stanford University’s fair use guidelines

The guidelines state that the following conditions would probably be constituted as fair use. 

  • Use of materials for educational settings 
  • Quoting minimal phrases of a work as compared to the whole volume of the work 

Digital Millennium Copyright Act 

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is a copyright law instituted in the USA. It was created to regulate digital content.

You may engage the services of DMCA to monitor your content on the web, check for any plagiarised material and issue formal take-down notices. DMCA notices are legally enforceable within the US. If you are outside of the US, it may be more of a hassle to enforce such notices in a court of law. 

If you are outside the US, it may be better to ascribe to your jurisdiction’s intellectual property regulation agency to settle any disputes.  

Issuing DMCA takedown notices are a great way to get stolen content off the internet without having to incur substantial legal costs. It acts like a warning letter to the infringer, like a tap on the hand instead of wielding the rod. 

How to prevent your work from being stolen?

The internet is a great place. With all this information floating around, we are more well informed than any other generation in history.

To protect your work from being stolen, you may want to make an explicit declaration on your website as to what can be used and what cannot be used. 

You may want to include copyright logos © on your website, stating that all information is copyrighted and not allowed to be plagiarised. Or you could embed DMCA badges to inform users that your website is protected by the DMCA.

Using licenses like the Creative Commons License, is a great way to regulate how users interact with your content. The licenses come with varying degrees of use. Eg. can be used and adapted for non-commercial use or stating that information can be freely distributed or for adapting and transforming even for commercial use. 

Other resources:

Plagiarism checker