How to Successfully Avoid Copyright Issues When Blogging

Blogging is a great way to share your thoughts on just about anything. Because of how easy it is to set up and get a blog going and how abundant the materials are on the internet; you have to pay special attention to attributing your sources properly and avoid falling into the trap of copyright infringement. Reading the full Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17) alongside the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) seems like a good place to start but for most people, the legal jargon can be too much.

How to Successfully Avoid Copyright Issues When Blogging

Copyright infringement can happen to anyone, most is done because we don’t understand what was actually infringing. Other times, it is just blatant infringing. Everything is copy written, from the written works, to audio works, to visual works, and finally audio visual works.

The most common infringement is quite possibly just someone doing a Google search for an image and using that image. In fact, most new bloggers can easily fall into this trap because images help us tell our story better but at the same time, they are unaware that image belongs to someone else and needs attribution.

Following that, videos are used quite often on blogging platforms. It’s you in-front of the camera doing what you are. Reciting something written is technically infringing, as is doing a cover of a popular song, and quite possibly what is in the background.

Finally it comes down to the plagiarism factor. Often times as a blogger we use a portion of someone else’s work, whether we are saying how right it was or how wrong it was. It’s really easy to copy and paste the content we want to quote. The pit fall is that it is all too easy to use someone else’s work to bolster our own.

Audio Visual Works

It’s not all too difficult to put together a nice-looking video. There are many free and paid programs that will help you in tweaking and editing your videos to make them sound and look professionally made. But, avoid using anything that you didn’t come up with on your own. Don’t use any background music that isn’t yours or legal to use either.

Being able to record a video and get our message across is great thing, as it leaves little room for misinterpretation, unlike the written text. People can get a feel for your personality because of the tone of your voice, and your body language. As long as it is all your own creation; you have very little to worry about.

Being a music blogger might be more troublesome. Since the focal point is the music, you have to purchase a license if you plan on using third-party music. If you’re a musician, you have to purchase a license if you’re doing a cover of a particular song.

Visual Works

A picture is worth a thousand words as the adage goes, and they are priceless. Blogs without images very rarely get read. That is just the sad truth of the matter. Using a WordPress plugin like Envira Gallery makes it easier to create, maintain, and sell from your photo gallery.

But in order to build that gallery, you need to have pictures. It’s easy to just search for image that you like and add it to your site. Before you do that, make sure to do a lot of background checking on the images they plan to use. If you plan to use pictures that you have not taken yourself, it is better to do the extra research and adhere to the Terms & Conditions of the photo site you are using.

The Terms & Conditions of various stock photography sites will usually tell you how to attribute their images properly and will even give you a link that you can paste onto your site.

Alternatively, you can bypass this by taking your own photos and using them everywhere on your site as well as on social media.

Audio Works

Whether you’re recording an audio for your blog post, or creating podcast episodes, you have to bear in mind the copyright laws. If you’re not careful, you can find yourself infringing on someone else’s copyright.

This has to be the largest grey area, because it can be rather hard to give proper attribution and source the direct quote. Terms like fair use can also be strewn around when you are having a discussion about something. While being able to recite an entire book or movie may get you applause from your friends, it is technically infringement.

Most platforms opted to use a “takedown first ask questions later” approach when it comes to copyright infringement. Along with that, it is quite possible to be targeted for lawsuits even if you have a small following. As with almost everything, if it is your own original work; you are most likely protected. If you’re using someone else’s work, be it audio or quoting, reading, music playing in the background, ensure you give proper credit in the body of your post.

Written Work

Since most blogs are roughly 80% written words, you need to be careful of the plagiarism factor. Plagiarising something is copyright infringement.

Even in our everyday manner of speaking, we credit those who said something. He said, she said, they said, you get the idea. Providing that we write content that is our own, or curate content that can be traced back properly, we should all be in the clear.

Not double checking ourselves makes it all that much easier to cross the line into copyright infringement.

Summing Up

The way our world works now, combined with how easy it is to access various tools and resources online, infringing on someone else’s copywritten material is all too easy. Instead of looking like Steve Urkel and asking “did I do that?” after the fact, we should be asking that question before publishing anything under our name. If the answer is a resounding no, then proper credit should be handed out before hitting that publish button.