Sunday, April 22, 2012

Copyright 101 for Bloggers, Part Two

Edie Melson
Today I want to finish up my series on copyright.

First, I want to state right up front that I am NOT a lawyer and none of what I’ve said or will say constitutes any kind of legal advice. All I’m trying to do is learn how to be responsible online and share that knowledge with you.

That said, at the end of this post I’m going to give you some links to the places where I found my information so you can go check out the specifics for yourself.
Now, onto the remaining answer of the quiz.

More Copyright Information
Number Seven—FALSE—Fair Use. We are all used to being able to quote passages from books and not get into any kind of copyright infringement. I am here to tell you, that is NOT the case with a song. The only part of a song you may quote is the title.

If you’ve seen songs quoted in published books either someone paid a use fee or the author wrote the song himself. I’ve known of two authors who self-published books and had to pull the books because of songs quoted without permission.

Number Eight—FALSE—Copyright Symbol (c). Copyright symbols are visual REMINDERS that what you’re reading belongs to someone. Just because there isn’t one doesn’t affect the status of what you see in print or online. If someone wrote it, it’s copyrighted.

SPECIAL NOTE: You do not have to apply for a copyright for your work...EVER. You can register your copyright, but it’s expensive and cumbersome to do. And it’s rarely necessary.

Number Nine—TRUE—Facebook Use. This is another trick question I snuck in. Because of the user agreement you signed when you registered for a Facebook account you agreed that your photos were able to be used by them for different online purposes. This makes it VERY difficult to prove in a court of law that you don’t mean that permission for everyone else on Facebook. So, if I post my Niagara Falls vacation photos on Facebook, I can’t complain if you borrow them.
Now, it’s always good manners to ask permission, but it’s probably not going to get you in any legal trouble.

ANOTHER SPECIAL NOTE: If the person posting the photo did so illegally, and you repost it, then you are just as guilty and can also be charged with copyright infringement.

I Pinterest, do you?
Number Ten—FALSE—Pinterest. I don’t know about you, but I LOVE Pinterest! I guess I’m just a visual kind of girl. But there are a lot of folks getting into trouble on Pinterest right now. We have to follow ALL the copyright rules when we’re pinning, just like when we’re posting on our blogs. And, if you violate a copyright with one of your Pinterest boards you, and you ONLY, are liable for any fines or charges. You agreed to this when you opened your Pinterest account and accepted their terms of use. If you want to read them again, here is the direct link:

But there is one slight loophole. If someone or some business has a Pinterest button on their website, you can assume they want their stuff to be pinned and you should be okay.

Number Eleven—TRUE—Book Reviews/Recommendations. This is an instance of Fair Use. As long as you’re not saying the book in question is written by you (if it’s not) you can legally post a review and use the cover.

Number Twelve—FALSE—Copyright Expiration. A lot of folks have heard that copyrights expire after 70 years. In some cases that’s true...but not all. There are some instances when copyright expires 70 years after the author/creators death. There are also times when copyrights are renewed. Beyond that, there are other exceptions, so while the 70 year rule is a good place to start—it’s not the place to end.

No need to Fear
This series of posts was NOT generated to scare you, but to give you confidence in what you’re doing and doing well. Being a writer would give me a reason to be passionate about this, but I also come from a creative family. My mother is Monita Mahoney, an internationally known artist and my dad is a classical musician, as well as a landscape photographer. Believe me when I say, I cut my teeth on this stuff. Back in the day, I’ve known my mother to correct complete strangers standing in front of copying machines with art books.

Now it’s your turn, feel free to use the comments section to let me clarify any thing that wasn’t clear or anything I didn’t cover.
Don’t forget to join the Conversation!

You can check out Edie's blog at

Resources (thought I’d forgotten, didn’t you!)
Good explanations of copyright
Public Domain Info
YouTube Info: