How can I learn more about copyright law?

[originally published on our BlogHarbor service]

Blogging is a powerful tool, and with that power comes responsibility. One of the most important considerations with respect to responsible blogging is the issue of copyright law. All bloggers should have a basic understanding of copyright law as it applies to publishing on the web, and how that law both guides the style and content which you can publish on a weblog but also protects your content from unauthorized use.

This page will provide some references on the topic of copyright law as it relates to blogging; we hope all BlogHarbor bloggers will take the time to review these articles to gain a deeper understanding of copyright law.

Copyright basics

A great place to start learning about copyright is at A brief intro to copyright by Brad Templeton. In this article, Brad defines copyright law and notes some introductory concepts as to what copyright law allows, what it prohibits, and what it protects.

Another article we recommend is 4 Basic Questions About Copyright and Weblogs, which answers these questions:

  1. What Is Copyright?
  2. Does copyright laws hold on the web and are they applicable to bloggers?
  3. What is copyright infringement?
  4. What types of copyright infringements do you often see bloggers commit?

Learning more about copyright

Another article from About Weblogs called 14 Copyright Tips For Bloggers provides tips for bloggers who wish to avoid copyright infringement problems, as well as tips for those whose copyrights are being infringed upon. A few of the tips they provide to bloggers looking to avoid copyright problems are:

  1. Never copy the whole of anyone else’s material
  2. Don’t just copy someone else’s stuff
  3. Try to be proportionate
  4. Acknowledge your sources if you do copy, and link to them

One of the most famous articles about copyright myths is 10 Big Myths about copyright explained, again by Brad Templeton. This article was originally penned in 1994 and was most recently revised in October 2004. Brad notes the 10 big myths are:

  1. If it doesn’t have a copyright notice, it’s not copyrighted.
  2. If I don’t charge for it, it’s not a violation.
  3. If it’s posted to Usenet it’s in the public domain.
  4. My posting was just fair use!
  5. If you don’t defend your copyright you lose it.
  6. If I make up my own stories, but base them on another work, my new work belongs to me.
  7. They can’t get me, defendants in court have powerful rights!
  8. Oh, so copyright violation isn’t a crime or anything?
  9. It doesn’t hurt anybody — in fact it’s free advertising.
  10. They e-mailed me a copy, so I can post it.

There’s even an 11th myth, but we won’t spoil that for you. Be sure to read Brad’s 10 Big Myths about copyright article reviewing these myths and provides insight into what’s really true about copyright law.

Summary

Understanding copyright law is a necessity for all bloggers and the articles we link to in this document will provide you with the detailed information you need to know about copyright. Respecting copyright guarantees that your blog does not infringe on the rights of others, and knowing the law can help ensure that your rights are protected.