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May 16, 2015

Copyright Issues Raise Their Ugly Head Again

Will it never end? It seems many web surfers don't understand copyright. When something is published on the internet on a website or a blog, it is copyright to whoever wrote it. It is not up for grabs! 

I don't know why folks can't grasp that an article I write, for example, and publish here on my blog or on one of my websites, is copyright to me.  That means it cannot be published elsewhere without my permission. Think of this way - if you go to a Library and borrow Stephen King's latest book to read, you cannot copy it and republish it anywhere - online or offline, without Mr. King's permission. (which of course he would not give) If you do publish without his okay, even if you clearly state that Mr. King wrote the piece, not you, you can bet your life he will sue your (ahem) off.

So why then do some folks think they can come to a website, read something they like and copy and paste it on their own site? That is called COPYRIGHT VIOLATION! And you can be sued.

I have copyright notices on every page of my site. Yet some still continue to take my work and republish it as if they are entitled to do so. Some plead innocence when confronted but ignorance of the law is no defense. Some leave the author's name on it and even provide a link to the original website, as if that makes everything okay. But theft is theft and violating someone's copyright is, in my opinion, theft. 

Many people also confuse plagiarism and copyright. 

Plagiarism is when someone takes your work and presents it as their own.  I've had that happen to me. A genealogist with a weekly newspaper column took an article from my website, published it word for word in a very large American newspaper and put her name as the author. After a thorough investigation, the newspaper fired her. These are serious offenses we're talking about. And I don't back down. If you take my work, I'll pursue every legal avenue available to get you to stop. 

Copyright violation or infringement is when someone takes  work which is protected by copyright laws without permission.

What can you do if someone takes your hard work without permission? You can write to the person and demand they remove it. I like to give two options - remove the unauthorized work within 24 hours or pay me a publication fee of $500.00. Those who violate copyright need to understand that an author's work is worth money.

If the person isn't compliant, file a DMCA complaint with their website or blog provider. Send the DMCA notice to the person who took your without permission.

Don't let it go. We should all protect our work and take what we do seriously. It is not okay for others to do a hit and run with no regard for legalities or respect for the work of others.


Cathy P said...

What if I like your article so much, I link to it from another site? Is that a violation of copyright since the person can go right back to your site through the link?

Olive Tree Genealogy said...

Hi Cathy

Linking from site to site is always good - that's how the Internet works.

Sharing a link to another site or blog or specific article or page is what you are supposed to do :-)

Those of us who run websites and write blogs depend on others LINKING to us in order to share our ideas and content.

What isn't okay is copying the text and publishing it on your site, your blog, your Facebook page, a mailing list, etc.

I think I will update or write another blog post about this - thanks for reminding me that not everyone is sure what's ok and what isn't!

Linda said...

Great post, again, as you mentioned this issue does not go away. Not too long ago & in conversation with another genealogist she said "I thought if you gave credit it was OK". This issue should be brought up before every genealogy society!

Robin C. said...

Hi Lorine, what if I quoted your first sentence "Will it...." And then put the link so someone will read the entire blog? I am not trying to copy your article, but I am trying to give someone who doesn't normally read your blog an idea of what the article addresses. I do not want to violate copyright, so please help me understand so I am sure to respect your work. Thank you!

Olive Tree Genealogy said...

Hi Robin - such a good question! Yes that is fine to quote a small bit of an article. It's called"Fair Use".

So generally you quote a line or two and then provide a link back to the original

I'm going to add this to a future post as something to talk about

Olive Tree Genealogy said...

Linda J. I agree! I also think we genealogy bloggers need to be writing about this more than we do.

The more we can let folks know what is okay and what is NOT okay, the better.

As you pointed out, there are those who simply don't realize what's okay

Linda said...

Lorine, I'm not a blogger Yet - thinking about it!!! Judy Russell also writes rather frequently on this issue and has some very good articles.