I have decided that, instead of my usual "Shelf Candy Saturday" post (which would be very late, anyway), I would publish a post on this very important issue.
About a year ago, I heard about how a blogger got in BIG trouble by posting images without permission from the copyright owner of those images. So I immediately began going through my previous posts, in order to ensure that I was not publishing any images that might infringe on any copyrights. I read something about the Fair Use Act somewhere along the way, but not in depth. Unfortunately, I don't remember much about what I read, so I've researched this issue, and have also posted several links dealing with it, at the bottom of this article.
The bottom line is this: we bloggers (of any type, not just book bloggers) can't simply copy and paste images from Google just to enhance our posts. According to what I read, we can, however, use images under the Fair Use Act for the purpose of commentary on those images. Images can also be used in book review posts.
As for text, book bloggers may quote from books if those quotes are included in book reviews. That, too, is considered fair use.
As soon as I had found out the above, and made sure I was not infringing, I began to relax. After some time had passed, I simply put the whole matter out of my mind and went on with my blogging.
Just a few days ago, this whole issue came crashing down upon me again. How? Well, another blogger copied from me, without my permission, or even attribution and linking back to my blog. It was a complete shock. Somehow, we tend to think that we're immune from whatever bad things happen to other people.....
This other blogger, I later discovered, has since taken down their blog. Since this is the case, I will not mention them or their deleted blog here. I reacted pretty strongly to their use of my content, though, especially because of the fact that their use of said content made it look as if they had created it.
Because of this unfortunate incident, I now have a Copyright Policy in place. It not only covers what I consider to be my exclusive intellectual property, but also how it may be used, if at all. My policy, which, by the way, may not be copied without my explicit permission, as I wrote it myself, also describes the specific steps I will take in the case of violations.
I will be consulting with a lawyer next week, in order to make sure that everything in my policy is clearly and legally explained. However, I did feel it necessary to put something up as soon as possible, so I wrote it, and revised it several times as quickly as I could before finally putting it up. It may be easily accessed underneath the blog header, or by clicking on the link in the paragraph above.
All of this made me wonder again about my own use of copyrighted material. After all, we should always consider the Golden Rule. I certainly feel that I should treat others the way I myself want to be treated. So I will be amending my policy to include statements about my use of copyrighted content.
In the case of text, I only use quotes from books in the context of reviews. If I see an interesting post on another blog, I always email the blogger first to ask if I may use the post as a guest post. In the past, I have contacted two bloggers who replied that I was welcome to use quotes from their posts, but not the entire posts. I therefore didn't use any of their material, as I felt that, in each case, the entire post would have been more effective. Still, I honored their right to decline.
I used to be very ignorant in the case of images. I have since then taken care of that. In the case of one weekly meme I participate in -- "Waiting On Wednesday" -- I purchased the image of the window with the sun rising over the Earth from a stock photo company, and then created my own logo with Picasa. I did the same thing with the image of the book stack for "Shelf Candy Saturday", which is a meme that originally belonged to Stephanie @ Five Alarm Book Reviews. She subsequently passed it on to me when she decided to stop blogging, taking her blog down as well. (For further details, click HERE.) I also purchased the image I use for my post signature, and added my name with Picasa. (See below.)
I will always conscientiously strive to avoid using copyrighted material without the copyright owner's permission. It would be nice if the same courtesy were extended to me, but, since that would only happen in an ideal world, I felt that I needed to create my own copyright policy to cover any and all future contingencies. I would like to encourage other bloggers, whatever the subject matter of your blogs, to do the same thing. A copyright policy is indeed a necessary and important thing for a blogger to have in place. A blog, after all, is an original creation.
At this point, I'm looking into the possibility of getting a Creative Commons license.
I'm including some important links on what constitutes fair use for bloggers, in regards to text and images. I sincerely hope that they will be helpful, as well as educational, for those bloggers who are starting out, and even for those who have been blogging for a while, yet may not be aware of how they are allowed to use copyrighted material.
Please leave any thoughts you may have regarding this very important matter in the comments section. If you would like to email me regarding this post, or to request permission to re-post my content, this is my email address:
Here are the links:
(This excellent article also discusses Creative Commons licenses and DMCA complaints.)