Thursday, March 29, 2012

Copyright 101 for Bloggers, Part Three

Today I want to finish up my series on copyright. If you missed the copyright quiz or Copyright 101 for Bloggers, Part One, these links will take you there.
I'm no lawyer!
First, I want to state right up front that I am NOT a lawyer and none of what I’ve said or will say constitutes any kind of legal advice. All I’m trying to do is learn how to be responsible online and share that knowledge with you. 
That said, at the end of this post I’m going to give you some links to the places where I found my information so you can go check out the specifics for yourself.
Now, onto the remaining answer of the quiz.
More Copyright Information
Number Seven—FALSE—Fair Use. We are all used to being able to quote passages from books and not get into any kind of copyright infringement. I am here to tell you, that is NOT the case with a song. The only part of a song you may quote is the title. 
If you’ve seen songs quoted in published books either someone paid a use fee or the author wrote the song himself. I’ve known of two authors who self-published books and had to pull the books because of songs quoted without permission.
Number Eight—FALSE—Copyright Symbol (c). Copyright symbols are visual REMINDERS that what you’re reading belongs to someone. Just because there isn’t one doesn’t affect the status of what you see in print or online. If someone wrote it, it’s copyrighted. 
SPECIAL NOTE: You do not have to apply for a copyright for your work...EVER. You can register your copyright, but it’s expensive and cumbersome to do. And it’s rarely necessary.
Number Nine—TRUE—Facebook Use. This is another trick question I snuck in. Because of the user agreement you signed when you registered for a Facebook account you agreed that your photos were able to be used by them for different online purposes. This makes it VERY difficult to prove in a court of law that you don’t mean that permission for everyone else on Facebook. So, if I post my Niagara Falls vacation photos on Facebook, I can’t complain if you borrow them.
Now, it’s always good manners to ask permission, but it’s probably not going to get you in any legal trouble.
ANOTHER SPECIAL NOTE: If the person posting the photo did so illegally, and you repost it, then you are just as guilty and can also be charged with copyright infringement.
I Pinterest, do you?
Number Ten—FALSE—Pinterest. I don’t know about you, but I LOVE Pinterest! I guess I’m just a visual kind of girl. But there are a lot of folks getting into trouble on Pinterest right now. We have to follow ALL the copyright rules when we’re pinning, just like when we’re posting on our blogs. And, if you violate a copyright with one of your Pinterest boards you, and you ONLY, are liable for any fines or charges. You agreed to this when you opened your Pinterest account and accepted their terms of use. If you want to read them again, here is the direct link:
But there is one slight loophole. If someone or some business has a Pinterest button on their website, you can assume they want their stuff to be pinned and you should be okay.
Number Eleven—TRUE—Book Reviews/Recommendations. This is an instance of Fair Use. As long as you’re not saying the book in question is written by you (if it’s not) you can legally post a review and use the cover.
Number Twelve—FALSE—Copyright Expiration. A lot of folks have heard that copyrights expire after 70 years. In some cases that’s true...but not all. There are some instances when copyright expires 70 years after the author/creators death. There are also times when copyrights are renewed. Beyond that, there are other exceptions, so while the 70 year rule is a good place to start—it’s not the place to end. 
No need to Fear
This series of posts was NOT generated to scare you, but to give you confidence in what you’re doing and doing well. Being a writer would give me a reason to be passionate about this, but I also come from a creative family. My mother is Monita Mahoney, an internationally known artist and my dad is a classical musician, as well as a landscape photographer. Believe me when I say, I cut my teeth on this stuff. Back in the day, I’ve known my mother to correct complete strangers standing in front of copying machines with art books. 
Now it’s your turn, feel free to use the comments section to let me clarify any thing that wasn’t clear or anything I didn’t cover.
Don’t forget to join the Conversation!

Resources (thought I’d forgotten, didn’t you!)
Good explanations of copyright
Public Domain Info
YouTube Info:

Be sure to read the rest of the series on copyright here:
Copyright Quiz
Copyright Part One


  1. These two posts have been very helpful, and a good reminder to many. I think I've been doing okay - using the free photo sites. Even then, I usually say where/who (even though I don't have to). Sometimes I use my own photos. Sometimes I use photos of photographers (with their permission) that I'm connected to. It's very good to know about the songs - I know a few writers who have goofed big time on this one!

  2. Edie, thanks so much for sharing this information. I will admit it's a bit scary, but knowledge is power!

    Blessings on your day!

  3. Edie, I learn so much when I read your blog. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Ladies, I'm so glad you've found this helpful! Please be sure to let me know if there are any topics you'd like to see covered in upcoming posts.
    Blessings All, E

  5. Thank you for these posts. I was definitely breaking some of these rules and didn't know it...especially that darn song rule.

    I've really come to treasure your advice on all things social media. Thank you! (Oh, and I joined HootSuite and started scheduling my much less stressful now!)

  6. Great posts, Edie! I'm so glad you covered this topic. So many writers misunderstand copyright laws.

  7. Edie, What about using quotes on your blog? (I am thinking inspirational and the like) Are you able to use a quote from a favourite poet, author or celebrity? Are there time restrictions on that?

  8. Lis, Thanks for the great question - I didn't even think to address this.

    Quotes are fine, just make certain they're accurate. By that I mean don't trust an intermediate source. If at all possible, go back to the original source of the quote - whether it's a book, transcript, or what.

    Example: if you us a Dr. James Dobson quote in his book, don't quote from a website that talks about the book, look for the book and double check it.

    Blessings All - E

  9. Great post, as always, and much-needed information. Thanks for taking the time to add all the links, too.

    Karen, I'd love to know what free sites you use that don't require you to say who/where they came from. All the free ones I use require credit and links. Thanks for sharing them. :-)

  10. I got every question right EXCEPT the facebook picture one. Very interesting, and I was proud of myself for paying attention over the years. :) I love using pictures from flickr because the use agreements are so specific that I know I'm giving the kind of credit that is due.

    I drive my friends crazy when I point out their breaking of copyright laws. Like copying the CD I loaned you--you just stole money from that artist! I really think it usually comes from ignorance, not a greedy spirit.

  11. Edie, These two posts have been very helpful, thank you! I just joined Pinterest and assumed anything would be fair game - glad to know otherwise. I also agree with Lindsay - I use the Hootsuite scheduling function and love it! Thanks so much!

  12. I had some questions on copyright issues. You covered them well in a simple way. Thank you so much.

  13. Thanks for these answers! I am typically afraid to post anything that isn't mine.