Oi, That’s My Content!

Again, a disclaimer. I am not a legal expert, and you may feel it necessary to use authoritative sources to check the information I am presenting here.

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In my last post I talked about the potential issues around using someone else’s art on the cover of your book.

Equally, you can fall foul of copyright law very easily when blogging. Or Twittering or Instagramming or anything else like that. I am truly astonished by the number of bloggers who appear to be unaware that copying a photograph off the internet and putting it on their blog leaves them open to legal action. And putting a note under the photograph reading ‘copied from x or y’ merely makes it easier for people to notice. There are many sites where you can download free images to use this way, but taking them from others is asking for trouble.

If it comes to the attention of the copyright owner, the least of your problems could be a ‘Cease and desist’ email from a lawyer, warning you to remove the image immediately. It is also possible that a fine is demanded, with the threat of legal action. Don’t ignore this or treat it lightly. It means Trouble.

This is one reason I don’t re-blog posts as often as I might. If I re-blog one with a dodgy image, I am also leaving myself open to legal action.

But what if it comes to your attention that your work has been taken this way? Let’s say someone steals your pictures and content, and puts them up on their site without permission or accreditation. I don’t mean a re-blog, which is a different thing altogether (as long as you follow the rules!) but Intellectual Property Theft, which is what I’ve been talking about all along.

What can you do about this?

Firstly, you might prefer just to grin and bear it, annoying though it is. After all, it’s just a blog post and is it worth the fuss? Although if it was a site making money from your work, that might be another thing altogether.

Obviously, you might want to take legal action, in which case you will check carefully what it might cost you and the chances of success. There are many reasons it could be a costly and difficult process.

(Of course, this is no reason to think you can break the law with impunity. You may well come up against a determined copyright owner)

Personally, I’m inclined to send a message to the infringer along the lines of: ‘I’ll put up a link to your blog from mine. The bad news is it will include key words such as ‘property theft’ and ‘(the infringer’s name)’ which will be found by search engines for as long as the page exists’ which might well deter them. After all, it is common knowledge that potential employers, for example, tend to have a good look on the internet for information on potential employees.

It might work, I suppose. Has anyone had this problem and had to deal with it?

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23 thoughts on “Oi, That’s My Content!

    1. That is something I’ve never come across before, Gene. I went and tried to get that to work on a number of images, but I couldn’t work out how. I did look through their ‘help’ page for image copyright, though, that seems to roughly correspond with my thoughts on most use. Thanks for that info.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Here is an interesting local story of an editor who thought he could get away with plagiarism in the age of the internet.

    So every once in a while, I will copy a couple of sentences from one of my blog postings and paste them into Google Search.

    No one has ever plagiarized my writing. I am not sure how I feel about that. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Only once have I run across one of my posts on someone else’s blog, Mick. I left a comment, nicely reminding the blogger (who seemed new since he’d just followed me after copying the post) that linking and giving credit to the writer of the original post is not only polite but will avoid copyright infringement problems that could ruin his blog. I recall that he said thank you.

    I always use free images and agree with you that reblogs are tricky when it comes to photos. Not long ago, I went through my old posts (from when I was a newbie and didn’t know better) and deleted or replaced every photo where I was unsure of its origin. It was worth it. Good reminder for us all. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad that worked out alright, Diana. That does sound like a genuine mistake and obviously in a situation like that I would do roughly what you did.

      I do need to go through my pictures, too. I don’t think there’s anything that might be a problem (although I’ll check) but mainly to shrink some of the earlier ones, which do take up a lot of my allowable space.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I think I’ll try your method if ever I face such a situation 🙂 Thank you, Mick.
    I once noticed one blogger friend had copied another’s short story, and posted it as their own with only minor changes. The esteem in which I held the copy-artist took a fall that day and hasn’t recovered.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Really good reminder, Mick. I’ve been trying to use either free Pixabay images or my own photos for my header images. I haven’t checked to see if my work has been plagiarized but I think it’s worth a look. Thanks for writing about this!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is a common problem with books, Mick. We’ve all heard about book piracy, but I wonder how many writers realise just how many sites out there do this, stealing their books and offering them for money the author never sees? A few years ago, a site called Blasty came along and I joined it as a beta user, which means I now have a free account with them. They take your book titles and author name and trawl the web for samples of your work and then ask you to identify those site that are offering your work illegally. I’ve so far dealt with literally hundreds of thses infringements both of my self-published work and that published through my publisher. They do all the work to have it removed and are sometimes able to have the sites closed down. Might be worth all authors investigating this. You can find them at : https://www.blasty.co/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I also joined Blasty ages ago, Stuart, and yes, they took down a lot of pirated web pages. But then they wanted a regular fee which would have been far more than I make on my books anyway, so I let it go.

      Like

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