Readers, I’ve always loved you. Your comments make me laugh, your feedback is always helpful and now you’re even protecting me from content theft. You see, I was contacted by a very sweet reader not too long ago saying that she was pretty sure an image from my most popular post was being used on someone’s online boutique shop. Not only was it being used there, but also on their corresponding Facebook page!!
I checked it out and sure enough, there was this image…
It’s definitely low resolution and probably copied and pasted from Pinterest.
Now, this tutorial is very very popular and I know it has been pinned thousands of times on Pinterest. However, I never thought that this would lead to someone using my image to promote a business. My image was being used to sell items on someone else’s “boutique” website. Now, doesn’t that seem strange to post pictures of items for sale that you didn’t even make? And I’m not selling them either, so how exactly do you plan on selling necklaces that my friends and neighbors now wear? Just wondering. <end rant>
My first step was to contact the website and tell them to remove my image immediately. I informed them that this was breaking copyright law. The person running the website wrote me back and in a very snippy tone, informed ME that she was an attorney. She said that the images she used were not copyright protected since they did not have watermarking and there wasn’t a copyright statement on my blog. There was a whole lot more, but I don’t want to get into it. Basically, she had the nerve to get defensive with me about using my images without my permission. Grrrrr.
Then I thought…could she be right? Did I incorrectly believe all of this time that my blog was protected under copyright law? That my words, my tutorials and my images were my own and no one else to use?
Well, my husband, also an attorney, and I spent a great deal of time researching copyright law and how it pertains to bloggers. At first, I was infuriated with my stupidity. But then here is what we found:
- Today, almost all things are copyrighted the moment they are written or images are uploaded to your blog
- These written words and images are protected by copyright law with or WITHOUT a copyright notice on your blog
- You can register for a copyright, but it is not necessary. You are still copyright protected without registration.
- Ideas, names and slogans can not be copyrighted
- Fair Use : a very fuzzy and debatable area of copyright law. Basically, you can use someone else’s material without permission if you want to provide criticism, make a comment, report it as news or for teaching and research purposes. However, fair use is controversial and therefore your best bet is to ALWAYS ask permission.
- Blogger to Blogger courtesy: Always link back to someone that inspires you. I’m constantly inspired by other bloggers on Pinterest. Then, I create something similar and link back to them. I think it’s the best form of flattery in the blogging world.
My research also produced some sad stories from other DIY bloggers. This one from Addicted 2 Decorating is, as she puts it, infuriating! You should also check out House of Hepworths experience too. She has some great ideas for protecting your blog.
I hope this post helps bring some much needed copyright information to all of you and doesn’t come off as some mean rant. Until this happened to me, I certainly didn’t know any of the details. I just wrongly assumed that I was protected and that most people respect the work of others. Blogging is certainly a fun outlet for me and not a job. However, I do spend a good amount of time on each post and editing images and therefore when someone tries to use my work without permission, I get beyond frustrated.
Feel free to comment on any issues you have had with copyright law. I would love to become more knowledgeable about the law and how it effects bloggers.Pin It