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A Copyright Law Blog Post about How Copyright Law Affects Blog Posts

With the maturation of the internet, more and more people are putting their own copyrighted work out into the world. People write stories, post pictures, and upload videos online, and that can make the legal landscape of online content both varied and complex.

Bloggers in particular should be aware of copyright for two reasons. First, blogging can involve so many different types of media from the written word to embedded videos, that there are many places where legal pitfalls can appear. Second, blogging has a low barrier to entry. This is great because almost anyone can express their views on a subject, but it means that many bloggers are also working without the safety net of knowledge and legal advice that many online companies have. Consequently, bloggers should take steps to educate themselves about how to avoid infringing other people’s copyrights and what to do if they believe someone else is infringing their copyright.

What Constitutes Infringement

With regard to avoiding infringement, it is important to understand exactly what rights authors have with regard to their own work. The easiest rule to understand is that authors have the right not to have their work reproduced elsewhere without their permission. For example, a blogger may not simply take someone else’s post or picture and put it on their own blog in whole. Importantly, attribution does not matter except in some special circumstances. The fact that someone posts an infringing image with the actual author’s name does not absolve them of infringement.

Of course, that does not tell the whole story. Copyright law does not preclude every use of every permutation or portion of a copyrighted work. For instance, the law does not protect facts or ideas. If a blogger expresses an idea that they read elsewhere, that is allowed unless they express it by copying what the other writer said. The law also allows a person “fair use” of content that would otherwise be copyrighted. Importantly, fair use is a complex, nuanced, and nebulous doctrine. Predicting it perfectly is difficult. Generally, people may take small portions of works, such as quotes, provided that it does not copy the “heart” of the work, or that it transforms the work in some meaningful way.

People can also avoid infringing on a person’s copyright by taking a license from the copyright owner. For instance, there are many services online that provide databases of pictures that are available for bloggers to use. Some of these are paid services, others are free, but both provide licenses for people to use the pictures online. However, it is important to understand the terms of the license. For instance, a picture that is available for use under a Creative Commons license still has rules about attribution that people must abide by.

Copyright infringement can be an ambiguous area of law, without clear, bright lines. If you are being accused of copyright infringement or are concerned that someone may be infringing your copyright, contact a West Palm Beach copyright attorney at Pike & Lustig, LLP to learn more about what you can do.

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