Blogging / Et Al

The Blogger, Copyrights & Creative Commons

Sometimes I get ideas for blog posts, and I have no idea where they come from. Such is today’s post. The topics of copyright and Creative Commons have been on my mind. I need to address the rights and licenses of the content I produce on SarahJoAustin.com and the content produced on LifePointOzark.com, and I’ve had this on the back burner of my brain for a while, but I wasn’t ready to do the research.

So I had some time Sunday night to do some research. I started on CreativeCommons.org. This seems to be the go-to place for online content producers, so I reasoned that I’d find a solution to my copyright woes (not that I have many), post a CC image on my blog, and continue with my night. Not so simple.

First off, the beauty of using a creative commons license is the principle of sharing. You decide what can be used by others to create other works, and you decide how you want your credit attributed. Sounds simple enough; however, I’m not so good at sharing. Yes, it’s a principle I learned in kindergarten, but on my blog, what’s mine is mine. And if you want to use it, give me credit, but I don’t want you to change it. That’s OK because there’s a CC license for that.

Adding a creative commons license will specify what I want and how I want it, but after much reading I found out that if someone uses my content without honoring my creative commons license, there’s not much I can do about it unless my content is registered with the United States Copyright Office. So I chased that rabbit. You can register your content online there for a one-time $35 fee, and as far as I can tell, you can upload a single file of all your blog posts.

I also found two very useful articles over at ProBlogger: “Copyright, Blogging and Content Theft” and “How to Defend Your Blog’s Copyright.” The first briefly explained how copyrights work in the U.S., what creative commons licenses entail, and the limitations of CC license enforcement. The second post detailed the author’s experience with content thieves and how he got them to remove content stolen from his blog from their blogs. Very useful.

In my understanding, here’s what you need to know as a blogger:

  • The moment you create your content, you own the copyright to it until 70 years after you die.
  • Your content needs to be registered with the U.S. Copyright Office if there’s a chance you’ll ever take legal action against a content thief.
  • A CC license doesn’t remove your rights to your work; it explains to others how you will allow them to use it and how they should attribute credit to you.
  • A letter to a content thief (or their web host) is usually the most efficient way to have stolen contact removed. Letters to web hosts require some Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) legalese.

So I put up an Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivatives Works 3.0 CC license on SJA. Right now, I want to retain as many of my rights as I can to my materials. When I have a spare $35, I’m going to register A Fool of Myself with the U.S. Copyright Office. Honestly, I don’t know why anyone would want to steal any of the randomness here, but I want to be protected in case something comes up. Plus, it makes me sound fancy.

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4 thoughts on “The Blogger, Copyrights & Creative Commons

  1. A great issue for any blogger! Thanks for covering this, for the links, and most of all, for the straight-forward presentation of the need-to-know information!

    • I always assume that if I’m struggling with a “blogging issue,” then someone else is, too. Hope to be helpful to others in the bloggosphere!

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