I decided to Google it and up pops a blog with the exact same name as mine, with only a slight change. I checked to see when the blog was started and it was started about two weeks after mine. Now I am not trying to say that said name was stolen from me. I am aware of the millions of blogs in blogland, and how it is possible to think of an idea only to find it has already been claimed. And I thought I had found a name that was my own. I tried to take all necessary precautions. I Googled my blog title to make sure it was not taken, which it wasn't. I spent almost two weeks trying to think of the perfect, catchy but not to complicated blog title before finally deciding on this one. But even all those precautions and all that effort cannot guarantee that someone won't wind up with the same title as you. And I am not gonna lie, it does irk me
Anyways, there is a point to this rant. All this BS got me thinking about copyrights and trademarks and what steps can be taken to protect my blog content. I am not talking about the title, but the posts, pictures and everything in between. Most bloggers, like me, put a lot of time and effort into their work. Every blog post I write means time spent away from my kids.Plus, I take pride in my work. Everyone has heard the horror stories of people having their blog concept and posts stolen and posted on another website, copied word for word. I can only imagine how frustrating THAT would be. Now I am not going to ramble on in all these technical terms about copyright laws and all that jazz. I am just going to give you a few tips that can help to protect your work. Now, keep in mind, these tips can not guarantee that your work won't be plagiarised or used without your permission, but they can be a very good deterrent and may be able to help in the unfortunate event that your work is stolen.
The first thing we will discuss is copyrights. What is a copyright?
A copyright is a form of protection, often a document, that is offered to authors of personal work, such as a blogger, that proves that said author is the real owner of that work and grants exclusive selling and reproduction rights to that person. Basically, it gives you exclusive rights to you work and how it is used. To effectively protect your work you should copyright each of your blog posts. However, copyrighting costs money and many beginner bloggers do not have said money. Lucky for you, I found a way to copyright your work for free. I found a great website that copyrights your work, including every additional blog post you publish, for absolutely FREE. They even give you a unique copyright number to use for future reference. It is free and simple and it is what I am now using to protect my work. Simply go to www.myfreecopyright.com to start protecting your work for free.
|If you see this DON'T copy it without permission.|
What is another way to copyright your work for free?
Well, if you are lucky enough to live in a country that signed the Berne Copyright Convention, then you are already protected for free!! Basically, it is a treaty that states that as soon as you publish an article on your blog it is automatically copyrighted and you own the copyright. And you don't have to provide any fancy scmancy codes on your site or documents either. Although those do come in handy should you wind up in court. It is not necessary to provide any documentation of this copyright law, it can't hurt to state that the content is protected somewhere on your website. This can be something as simple as this: © Two Tiny Tyrants- 2012. The Berne Convention provides copyright protection to text for up to 50 years after your death and 25 years for photos, although at that point it probably won't really matter that much unless it is worth something substantial. I had a difficult time finding a complete list of all countries that signed the Berne Copyright Convention, the best I could find was the map on the Wiki page highlighting all the countries that are included, which you can view by clicking HERE. However, I do know that the United States and Canada are included under this treaty so if you reside in either you are automatically protected by your own government. This copyright is often used in conjunction with a Creative Common License, which I will explain later. However, if you do not want to include a CC license on top of the copyright protection you can simply add an "All Rights Reserved" and it will look something like this:
© Two Tiny Tyrants-2012 "All Rights Reserved"
If you do come to find out that someone is stealing your work and the blog they are publishing the plagiarised work on is hosted by Blogger or any Google product you can file a DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) complaint. Please visit this link to file a report: http://www.google.com/dmca.html
If you don't mind people using your work as long as they give you credit (like in the form of a link back to you) then you should consider using a Creative Commons license on your website. A Creative Commons license allows you to grant permissions for others to copy, distribute or somehow make use of your work while still allowing you to retain your copyright.It also ensures that you get credit for your creative work..You can customise this license to fit your personal needs and wishes by answering a few questions regarding your work and what permissions you wish to grant. Then, based on your answers, it will generate a CC license for you. It will even create a widget for you to add to your website stating your chosen permissions (You can view the widget on the top right hand corner of my homepage). This service is also free of charge and you can get one by visiting: www.creativecommons.org.
|This image on Wiki is an example of the widget.|
One of the simplest ways to mark your images as your own is with what is called a "watermark." A digital watermark is a visible embedded overlay added to an image that is used to identify the original owner and prevent someone from claiming it as their own. A watermark is often in the form of a logo, text or copyright notice. While it cant stop someone from using the photo without your permission, it can make it difficult from them to claim it as their own. Technically, a watermark can be removed, but it requires a lot of time and effort. The idea is that many people who use other peoples images are probably to lazy to go through all that work to alter a pic. If they did have such time and resources then they would most likely simply get a picture that was their own.
You can add a basic watermark to your own images free of charge very easily. I tried it myself and let me assure you that a child could do it. It can be done with just about any photo editing software, such as Photoshop or Paint.net. However, if you don't have access to a photo editing program you can also do it in a few simple steps by using Picnik, which is a FREE photo editing program. You don't even have to register to use Picnik, anyone can use it free of charge and it allows you to upload, edit and save your photos right from the website without downloading or signing up for anything. Awesome, huh? I wasn't exactly sure how to watermark an image so I Googled it to try to find a basic way to do it on Picnik. The best tutorial I could find was on the blog www.bloggingwithamy.com. You can find the step by step video of how to watermark an image (as well as some other basic editing tips) on Picnik by clicking HERE. I tried it out and this is what the end result looks like:
So there we have it!! Those are a few simple and FREE steps that you can take to better protect your online work. Now if you have a business website or a very large website that you have invested a lot of time or money into then I recommend that you take things a step further and actually register for a copyright at an actual copyright office. While all of these are great ways to deter content theft, many of them will not be enough to hold up in court, god forbid it should come to that. Also, I am not a lawyer and non of this should be interpreted as legal advice. This is simply for informational purposes and is intended to encourage other bloggers to take the necessary steps to protect their original work. For more information on copyright laws and protection please visit the following websites:
How to apply for a Copyright in the USA: http://usgovinfo.about.com/c/ht/00/07/How_Apply_For_Copyright0962932962.htm
In Canada: http://www.cipo.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/cipointernet-internetopic.nsf/eng/h_wr00003.html?OpenDocument
***NOTE: Some people seem to think that I am implying that the other blog cannot use that name. That is not the case. As I said in my post, I am aware that it is very possible to come up with a title not knowing that it has already been used. I am not claiming that there has been a copyright infringement and I am not claiming to own the rights to said title. All I am saying is that this situation got me THINKING about copyrights and what I can do to protect my other content on my website. The other blog is totally within their rights to use said name, and while it is a bit annoying when you are trying to make a name for yourself, I would not expect them to change their title either. I hope this clears up the purpose of this post. Thanks***