Okay, this post is in the form of a rant. I work as a writer, and have gotten over the years very knowledgable about copyright law.
Recently, a person posted a link on Facebook to a blog on their own blog about Disney. The link led to a post on their blog where they had copied and pasted an entire article from another website. They did credit the website.
Now when I pointed out on Facebook that they were in violation of the copyright law, they took offense and called me a troublemaker. Their post on Facebook, however, disappeared. However, the blog they have still has the article. Turns out they, like many other websites, have a lot of copies of photos and more in violation of the copyright law.
Now when I try to explain this, as I have many times, that this is wrong and cheating the writer or copyright owner out of their money and is akin to stealing this person didn’t care. And this is repeated all over the web.
Some say it is okay under the fair use doctrine. That is a myth. It is not legal, even if the website is a non-profit, and you definitely cannot copy an entire article.
Let’s put it another way. You work at what you do, you like to get paid. Well I work at what I do, I write. And I like to get paid for my work. If I do it under a contract for someone, then that is usually a “work-for-hire” and the person or company that hired me usually owns the copyright and can use it as they see fit, depending on the contract we worked out.
But it is still a copyrighted work, so are photos and videos.
When I use photos or videos from others, I always make sure I have permission to use any photo or video that is not my own. If I don’t, then online I only use links to the photos or videos, or if it has embedding code for the video embed it – the copyright holder still gets the commercial money. Same for written words, you can use a few words in the form of an attributed quote. Usually a sentence or two. But that’s it. Any more, you need permission – in writing.
What I do is how I earn a living, and so do others. So please people, don’t be ignorant about copyright law and please don’t steal my words or others on the internet or elsewhere, it’s wrong. It’s stealing.
Google’s Youtube actually has a great website (notice it’s a link) that explains a lot of copyright laws and issues, including the concept of fair use and many of the myths surrounding the fair use doctrine.
If I ever find anyone using any photo or words I have created, I go after them. If I see it through Facebook, then yes I start making comments on the post. And because I believe in others being treated the same way, I do the same even if it isn’t my website being violated.
So, yes, I am a cantankerous curmudgeon about the issue.
Those of you who are stealing, please quit doing that. If it’s mine, I will send you a cease and desist letter, then will contact a lawyer about filing a lawsuit for monetary damages. If I see you doing it to others, I will, when time permits, contact the copyright holder and let them know you are stealing their work.
Feel free to comment.
Editor’s note: Someone did comment, but their comment was libelous, so was not approved.