To me this is a puzzling question. In the days before blogging, when words were written securely on paper and the issue of copy right was as easy to deal with as posting your own work to yourself through the mail, we all knew exactly where we stood.
But is it the same today?
Well in theory yes. One should always retain the right to their own intellectual work. No doubt about that, but in practice on the internet, I don’t see how the ideal of copy right can actually apply.
What if others engage in the age-old literary practice of taking a line from one of my poems and construct their own work from it? Are they stealing my words? Or are they stealing my ideas? Or both?
This question has vexed the literary community for years, hence the creation of intellectual Copy Right in the first place. Yet as far as I’m aware there can be no copy right on ideas, only words that have actually been written.
So Copy Right on the internet can only extend to the written word, but is it even doing that?
I know the first time I saw one of my own poems cut and pasted onto another’s blog post , I was genuinely taken aback.
To be honest it did not make me feel particularly good. Especially considering that the person who had copied it had not left a comment nor notified me in any other way that they had done so.
This left me questioning just how protected are the creative works that any of us post on the internet?
It also lead me to another broader question which is, can there really be such a thing as intellectual ownership, if we are prepared to give our words away for free in our blog posts?
When I really thought about it, I came to the conclusion, that as long as my work is always credited back to me, then I’m okay with others copying it.
My rational for this decision in the end was incredibly simple.
If I weren’t posting my poems on the internet, the chances that anyone else would ever see them would be incredibly slim.
When I really take the time to consider why it is that I continue to write and share my words on the internet, it becomes clear to me that I do so because I wish to give voice to my own experiences. The issue of Copy Right in this sense doesn’t really come into it. Although like everyone else I would prefer that credit be given where ever that credit is due.
So I’ve decided, that despite the dubiousness of Copy Right on the internet, I would sooner share my words than remain silent on the issues that affect my life.
The other question that struck me is, just who am I on the internet anyway?
A faceless name? A pseudonym? A pseudonym, that should anyone choose to look it up, would not lead inexorably back to me, the person behind the words.
Given this, how on earth would the internet pseudonym that is me, ever be able to prove ownership of my work anyway? And if I cannot prove my words are my own then how can I expect to protect them through Copy Right ?
To me the answers to these questions are still unclear.
Although I have seen a few bloggers trying to address this issue by stating that the works on their blog site are covered by Copy Scape.
Yet when I checked Copy Scape I found that you could simply cut and paste the logo without actually employing the Copy Scape system. I think the term ‘as safe as houses’ may apply here. I also found that the use of Copy Scape involved a fee (if anyone reading this is using Copy Scape could you please let me know how effective it is and whether or not you would recommend it?).
So all these questions regarding Copy Right and the overall lack of clarity surrounding their answers, have led me to consider just what the correct protocol should be when incorporating another bloggers work into your own blog?
Is it okay to copy and paste entire works, such as poems, onto your own blog?
Does providing a name or a link back to the original author make it okay to reproduce another’s work without prior permission?
Is hitting the reblog button simply the most ethically correct way to go when it comes to sharing the works of others?
What method of sharing do you prefer when it comes to others distributing your work?
- 4 Mistakes That New Bloggers Make When Starting a Blog (corporationcentre.ca)
- Two Blogging Sites for Copywriting (kaleidescopecreativity.wordpress.com)
- Exactly what You Should Understand About Blogging (roll7share.wordpress.com)
- Old tricks are new again: Dangerous copy & paste (h-online.com)