Having finished the first three interview questions with Lorelle (of Lorelle on WordPress), I reread the comments from Part Two. Her answers got us thinking, didn’t they?

Most bloggers are not using a copyright license, privacy policy, and/or disclaimer. List below are several free resources that I use.

Priority Digital.com offers a privacy policy and a disclaimer (see their free services)

Creative Commons (.org) offers a copyright license, along with a badge that can be included on your site. (see mine at the bottom of my left sidebar)

Copyscape.com is a great service to check with to see if your content has been plagiarized.

More information can be found by checking the links Lorelle provided in Part Two.of our interview series.

Remember: You work hard to produce quality content and share beautiful photographs. Protect what is rightfully yours.

Today’s Questions

Are you protecting your writings? Your photographs?

Has your content been plagiarized? If so, what did you do?

Is this an issue that concerns you?

Do you have other concerns you’d like to discuss? The comment section is open for all questions.


Photo Credit: laihiu’s photostream

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Look Who's Talking
  1. Scott McIntyreNo Gravatar says:

    This is fantastic, Barbara…

    I commented on one of Lorelle’s interview posts that I’d like to investigate blog legal issues and here you are- giving us all a resource guide. Thank you!

    As part of my research so far, I came across Vered’s comprehensive “Legal” page:

    http://momgrind.com/terms-of-use/

    Can I ask you and Vered (who I hope will comment later) how a new blogger distills all the various legal issues into policies that are specific and relevant to their own blog?

    For example Vered, how did you go about creating your own “Legal” page?

    Thank you.

  2. Cath LawsonNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara – As you know, I’ve never was worried too much about copyright. And I only use the copyright details on the footer of my blog for SEO purposes.

    But lately, I’m beginning to realise that plagiarism is rife on the Internet. I wonder if these people realise it’s wrong to steal the work of others? Maybe a few precautions would deter them. I’ll check your links.

    I saw one of my posts on a scraper site a little while back. But there was no contact form, so I couldn’t even contact them and ask them to remove the post.

    It makes you wonder how long it will be before some of these crooks start packaging other people’s blog content and selling it in ebooks.

  3. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Scott,

    When I started blogging my theme had the copyright symbol “built in” (in the footer). Then when I was signing up for an affiliate marking site, it mentioned a disclaimer/privacy policy was needed for some of their advertisers. I found the one I linked to (at Priority Digital) so I added that.

    Just today, I added the creative commons logo/license.

    I may be missing some other precautions, so I’m going to reread the links Lorelle provided in Part Two.

    Can we be too careful? I don’t think so.

    Hi Catherine,

    I’m guessing they know it’s wrong, but if someone finds a post, or blog that is search engine optimized, what’s to stop them from copying and pasting it? It becomes our job to find it and put a halt to it.

    Like you, shortly after I started blogging my OM blog was plagiarized. I couldn’t find any contact information for them, so I blocked their IP address (whether that helped or not, who knows). But it was very upsetting.

    Ooooooh! That’s a scary thought. Steal to create an ebook. THAT would be a great case for a lawsuit, since they’re selling what they stole.

  4. I need something like Creative Commons. I don’t know why I never bothered to be a little more protective of my content; I suppose it’s because I never experienced a serious case of someone plagiarizing my work. But there’s no time like the present to get on top of it! (So thanks for the resources :-p)

  5. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Ricardo,

    You’re very welcome. I think every blogger should protect their work, no matter how insignificant they think it is.

  6. Thanks for the excellent resources. I’ll check them out this weekend.

  7. Personally, I’ve never been concerned about people stealing my content. The ones who do this already have people trying to get them removed from Google and shut their site down, and I don’t think adding a copyright notice is going to do anything to deter them. I prefer to focus on writing new posts and try not to worry about things I can’t really control. Besides, the scrapers might link back to you and boost your PageRank! And the scrapers are ultimately creating a life of misery for themselves by being dishonest.

    But as far as protection goes, I’m very concerned about someone hacking my blog. Catherine said that someone broke in and changed her password! What if you lose your life’s work because someone hacks in and deletes all your posts? I guess in that case you could look for scrapers and scrape your content back from them!

  8. Al at 7PNo Gravatar says:

    I have a copyright notice, but I’ve been considering changing it to a Creative Commons license. I’m pretty OK with it as long as they attribute it properly, but most plagiarist don’t do that last part on purpose.

    I’ve heard good things about Copyscape. I’ve only caught spam blogs copying my stuff, but at some point I think I should take plagiarism seriously.

  9. Chase MarchNo Gravatar says:

    Our blogs have our names and titles on them. The minute we create something and publish it for others, we have created it and we own it. The copyright is implied. Plus, it is date-stamped and time-coded so we can always prove that we wrote it first.

    I say don’t worry. Just write.

    I’ve been researching the publishing business and when submitting a manuscript, you don’t put a copywrite notice on it.

    I also know that putting out a CD or album gives you immediate intellectual property rights. Blog content can’t be, and shouldn’t be any different.

  10. MarelisaNo Gravatar says:

    I’m going to copy the legal disclaimer from my website to my blog, thanks for the reminder Barbara. I think if you have affiliate links on your site it’s a good idea to put something in the “about” page letting people know (maybe letting them know you only promote products that you use and have gotten good results with, and so on).

  11. I think I did have something copied early on, but I was so new I didn’t even get it!

    The other day I was approached by another blogger about using some of my “before and after” photos and they linked back to me, which was really nice!

  12. I’ve had a few bloggers email me asking me if it was ok to reprint my article on their blog. I didn’t have a problem with it as long as they gave me full credit – and I was honored.

    I have found that same article though reprinted without my authorization. The article had links to other posts in my blog so if anyone clicked on those they would arrive at my blog.

    As for copyrights – well I absolutely had to give a terms of use and privacy policy for my web hosting company. Pretty much if you own a business and work with customers then you need one.

    Something to note about Copyrights

    Once you write something, you own the copyright to it, even if you don’t legally pay for a copyright. It is helpful, though, if you can prove you were the first person who wrote or photographed it. A little trick musicians do (yes, I’m a musician) is to record their work and then mail it to themselves through the postal service.

    The postmark by the post office will give a proved date in which your work was created by . . . just don’t open it!

    So remember, even if you don’t have a copyright notice, your work is still copywrited. I just am not sure if a time stamp from WordPress is proof enough that it was your work first?

    John Hoff – eVentureBizs last blog post..Choosing The Best Kind Of Affiliate Marketing For Your Website

  13. Sunil PathakNo Gravatar says:

    I have signed up for Creative Commons license few weeks back but still my content was being posted on scrap blogs, i even send mails to the admin of that blog and told him about copyrights but nothing happened and still my contents are being posted on such blog every week (or say as soon as i post new article)

    So like Hunter me too give up going after all those scrapers and now i concentreat only on my writing and spend my free time tweaking my blog so my dear readrs can enjoy my blog more and more

    Sunil Pathaks last blog post..How to Encourage Your RSS Subscriber to Visit your Blog

  14. LindaNo Gravatar says:

    Good point and thank you for the resources … will be updating soon! Thanks for sharing Laurel and her infinite wisdom.

    Lindas last blog post..Citizens of Earth!

  15. NaturalNo Gravatar says:

    chase is correct we are automatically protected, the other protection builds your case in court, if stolen. I do have the copyright symbol on my blog, yes my work has been scrapped, I think that’s the term. Once I told the person it’s okay to use some of my work as long as you give me credit, but don’t copy the whole darn blog. Nope, I’m not too concerned. I know once you put it out there, it’s kind of up for grabs.

    I have a question, under your Admin “widget” how do you remove those other links like comments rss and posts rss. i just want login too. did this question need to be post related, if so, sorry, you can remove it and email me later. thanks barbara.

  16. JenniferNo Gravatar says:

    Wow, thanks Barbara for bringing all this to our attention and for providing us with these great links! This is definitely something to consider and take action about before it’s too late. You work so hard to make us all better bloggers and better informed. I really appreciate you for this!

    I remember how my friend talked about how she felt so violated when someone broke into her truck and went through her personal belongings and stole her perse. Plagerism can easily cause you to feel much the same.

  17. VeredNo Gravatar says:

    Well, being a former attorney, I have a pretty extensive Legal page. 🙂 But I am considering changing it to a simple Creative Commons License. Need to think about it.

    I am not aware of any of my content being stolen.

    Would I be upset about my content being stolen? I don’t know. I guess so, but not terribly, because the thieves would just be that – miserable thieves that have no real chance at making a name for themselves or having true success in life.

    I was inspired by Leo Babauta’s decision to Uncopyright. He says it didn’t hurt him at all.

    Vereds last blog post..Being A Lawyer Was Sucking The Life Out Of Me

  18. Another thing I forgot to mention was a disclaimer.

    Recently my company has begun incorporation services for businesses, however, we are not lawyers and technically cannot provide legal / professional advice.

    I’ve written a couple articles on how to protect your assets using business structures and have been getting a lot of emails and comments from people asking us specific questions.

    A lawyer told us that we needed to protect ourselves by adding a disclaimer at the bottom of our blog (see my blog’s footer).

    I don’t think many bloggers ever stop to consider that what they write could actually get them in trouble if someone took their advice and lost a lot of money over it.

    ….just something to think about.

    John Hoff – eVentureBizs last blog post..Choosing The Best Kind Of Affiliate Marketing For Your Website

  19. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Karl,

    You’re welcome!

    Hi Hunter,

    I don’t think a copyright symbol would defer SOME (scrapers), BUT many people (not scrapers) think because they find something online, it’s free. A copyright symbol or badge will remind them, it’s not.

    Obsessing to find out if someone scraped our site can be a time waster, but periodic checks wouldn’t be that time consuming.

    Hi Al,

    The Creative Commons license is what’s also used on Flickr, and they do a great job of letting viewers know what’s can be copied and what can’t.

    Hi Chase,

    You’re right, the copyright is implied, however, a lot of people don’t know that. As I mentioned to Hunter, many think anything online is free for the taking.

    Hi Marelisa,

    You’re welcome,

    Depending on the affiliate links we use, that could be a good idea. However, if anyone uses AdSense, we never know what ads Google will be placed on our site.

    Hi Ann,

    That was kind of the other blogger to ask if they could use your photos. The link back will certainly help to bring in more visitors.

    Hi John,

    That’s a good reminder for us to have links in our posts. As long as the links (code) isn’t removed, you still get traffic.

    Hi Sunil,

    Yes, chasing scraped content can take time away from our writing. It’s up to us to decide how we want to handle that which has been stolen.

    Hi Linda,

    You’re welcome!

    Hi Natural,

    All questions are welcome on my blog, any day.

    Go to your left sidebar php file. Find the part for “meta”. You’ll see some coding for log in, entries rss, comments rss, and WordPress.org. Delete the parts that apply to your rss feeds.

    Make sure you make a copy of the php file first (in case you make a mistake).

    Let me know if this helps. If not, feel free to email me or leave another comment.

    Hi Jennifer,

    Thank you for your kind words.

    I hear you. The first time my blog was plagiarized, I was VERY upset. It took awhile to get over it, but like you said, I felt violated.

    Hi Vered,

    I remember hearing about Leo uncopyrighting his work. That’s a decision only a blog author can make for themselves, but I would then worry about the duplicate content issue. How would Google know who wrote it first?

    Hi John,

    You’re right! Many claim to be experts, and if someone is harmed based on the information provided, who is at fault?

    Thanks for bringing up another great point.

  20. I like what John said. I think I’m more worried about someone using the info on my site and blaming me for something that happened, rather than worrying about a copyright license.

    However, after reading your post today I went ahead and put a CC license on my blog.

    I probably won’t be going around checking to see if trolls have plundered my posts however… I doubt any of them would ever make it on stolen words anyway. Just a gut feeling.

    Thank you for the post!

    Sara with an “h”s last blog post..The King of Fruit – A Love Story.

  21. @ Sara – with an “h” huh? hehe.

    I think I’m going to add the CC lic. to my blog as well. It can’t hurt.

    John Hoff – eVentureBizs last blog post..Choosing The Best Kind Of Affiliate Marketing For Your Website

  22. NaturalNo Gravatar says:

    Thanks Barbara, I will give it a try on my test blog first! 😉

  23. Ellen WilsonNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara,

    Yes, damned tootin’ it concerns me with photos since I sell them! I used to embed the copyright symbol in the photos themselves, but since I went digital, I found this is a harder process and haven’t figured it out yet.

    I’ll have to read Vered’s legal statement.

    You know what irritates me is that of course we all learn that plagiarism is wrong in school so that is no excuse. I know for a fact that teacher’s teach that the Internet should be cited like any other source.

    All this is making me very nervous.

    As far as what Hunter just said, I’ve heard it’s a good idea to change your site password at least once a month.
    E

    Ellen Wilsons last blog post..Interpreting Art

  24. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Sara with an “h”,

    You’re welcome.

    With your blog “talking” about health and diet, that could be a concern. Some sites post a disclaimer at the end of each article. Might that be something you could do?

    Hi John,

    I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the BWAB community has two Sara’s – one with, and one without a “h”. They both have great blogs worth checking out. :0

    Hi Natural,

    You’re welcome. Hope it works.

    Hi Ellen,

    You’re one of the people I thought about when I referenced photographs. Maybe someone reading this can let you know of an easy way to embed a copyright symbol into your digital pictures.

    Thank you for the great reminder. Changing our passwords frequently is a good idea, not only on our blogs, but anywhere we use them.

  25. Are you protecting your writings? – No.
    Your photographs? – No.
    Has your content been plagiarized? – Interesting. How would I know unless I randomly stumble across something that is mine?
    Is this an issue that concerns you? – I am not overly concerned about my writings, although I probably should be. Someone can use my post, but they would be hard pressed to duplicate my style and pass it off as me. I guess I need to put more thought to what the repurcussions to me are if someone plagiarizes my writing. Now, my photographs, yes, I am concerned about that and need to do something about it pronto. A photograph can be sold over and over again, and I would be really ticked to find out someone is making money off of my art. I have posted a few of my artsy shots on my blog, but I keep that limited at the moment.

    Urban Panthers last blog post..I just don’t get it

  26. SterlingNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara. Thanks for the info Priority Digital. I often have clients asking me for sample Privacy Policies. This will be a big help.

    Sterlings last blog post..The #1 Problem With Small Business Websites

  27. VeredNo Gravatar says:

    Scott, sorry – I just realized you were asking me a question!

    Well, the reason my legal page is so serious is that I was trained as an attorney… I take these things seriously. The content of my legal page is a mix of generic paragraphs that I found on the web, in different websites that I considered serious enough to take their legal page and use it as a template, and some verbiage that’s based on my own legal knowledge.

    Anyone who wants to, is welcome to use my legal page as a template. It’s not protected. 🙂

    Vereds last blog post..Being A Lawyer Was Sucking The Life Out Of Me

  28. Linda AbbitNo Gravatar says:

    I haven’t done any protecting of my work yet, but will definitely do so.

    I was a legal secretary/paralegal before I became a Mom, so at least the verbiage won’t freak me out. And my “NY paranoia” is also kicking in so these action items will go to the top of my To Do list.

    Thanks for all the links and thoughts, Barbara, and all of the commenters before me.

  29. This is an issue that concerns me. I think I should use copyscape more often.

    It’s so ridiculous when people steal content. I don’t think they are really ever going to make any money doing so. And it’s so dishonorable.

    Of course, whether they would make money from it or not is irrelevant. You just don’t do this kind of thing, period.

    Bamboo Forests last blog post..7 Ways You can Become Rich

  30. DavinaNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara. Happy FEFF!

    I haven’t been too concerned about copyrighting my material because I wasn’t sure how to track it. Guess I’ll have to check out Copyscape.com to see how that works.

    Does anyone have any comments (no pun intended) about the “subscribe to this post plug-in”? I see you are using it Barbara. Any pros or cons? I’m considering downloading it.

    And, how do you know when you have received a comment on an older post? I am only notified of a comment if the commenter is a first-time commenter. I know there is a plug-in to show the most recent comments, but would there be a limit to how many it would show? Is there another option, or is that it?

    Davinas last blog post..Core Value Statements

  31. Hi Barbara,

    I’ve heard great things about you from Catherine Lawson, a very good recommendation for one to have! 🙂

    Have I been plagiarized? Yes. I’ve used Google’s service to remove my full content from blogspot blogs (they ended up shutting them down, they were scraping tons of other sites, too) and have sent out DMCA notices to Yahoo.

    I’ve used Copyscape but haven’t bought a subscription so was limited on the amount of searchs. I also use a digital fingerprint plugin.

    What do you think of zenhabits.net allowing anyone to repost and reuse his full content?

    JoLynn Braleys last blog post..My Top 10 Weight Loss Tips – Live on Planetary Streams

  32. Evelyn LimNo Gravatar says:

    Hey Barbara, this is a great post. I really need to think over how to approach this issue with my site.

    Thanks for sharing,
    Evelyn

    Evelyn Lims last blog post..How To Do Pendulum Dowsing

  33. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Urban Panther,

    Yes, photos can be sold many times. I think it’s important to protect them.

    Hi Sterling,

    You’re welcome. I hope that is what you’re looking for.

    Hi Vered,

    That’s so kind of you to willingly share your legal page as a template. You’ll save others tons of time.

    Hi Linda Abbit,

    You’re welcome. I hope you found something here you can use.

    Hi Bamboo,

    No, it’s not right to steal, whether in real life or online, but some like to take short cuts and not do the work.

    Hi Davina,

    Re: the plugin. I’m happy with it. New comments end up in the subscribers inbox.

    I see my new comments either under “Recent Comments”, or through my dashboard (under comments – I use WordPress). There may be other ways of tracking them, but I haven’t dug any deeper into it, than I have.

  34. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Evelyn,

    You’re welcome. Let me know if you have any questions.

  35. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi JoLynn,

    Welcome to the BWAB community. Catherine has a great blog, doesn’t she?

    WOW, you really did have a problem on your hands. That had to be upsetting and time consuming to correct the problem.

    Re: ZenHabits. As mentioned earlier, I would be concerned with duplicate content.

    I’ll be by later to visit you. The post CommentLuv is linking to sounds fascinating.

  36. Dr. CasonNo Gravatar says:

    I never change my password. Seems I should start.

    I’ve also never really worried about copyright protection as well. I thought it was implied.

    Really need to work on being more cautious. Thanks Barbara for addressing this issue!

  37. DavinaNo Gravatar says:

    Thanks Barbara for the info re the “subscribe to this post” plug-in and the recent comments plug-in. This has been a very insightful conversation.

    Davinas last blog post..Core Value Statements

  38. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Dr. Cason,

    You’re welcome. It doesn’t hurt to take precautions by changing your password. And like Ellen, you also have many beautiful photographs you might want to protect.

    Hi Davina,

    You’re welcome. Let me know if you have any other questions. I’ll do my best to answer them.

  39. Cath LawsonNo Gravatar says:

    @ John – that is a great point. I heard of authors who do the posting thing too.

    @ JoLynn – thank you. I’m glad you came over here. I’m glad you had success closing them down. I never really thought about it but I guess many of the scrapers are using blogspot. Serves them right.

    @ Hunter – I love your idea of scraping the content back.

  40. RobinNo Gravatar says:

    I agree with Chase – adding copyright notices and so on do nothing – your stuff is covered as much as it can be by putting your name on it.

    Posting your creations to yourself in the mail (or doing anything else) would only be of any use if you are taking the filthy robbers to court – is a blogger or musician really going to do that? (And even then, my understanding is that it would be useless as evidence – I wonder if there are any precedents.)

    @Hunter – ha ha that’s funny

    Robins last blog post..A Magic Trick For Relationships

  41. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Robin,

    You’re another vote for “copyright notices” are not necessary.

    I’m finding it interesting how each blogger relates to this subject. Then there’s Hunter, who will steal back what the scrapers stole from him. 🙂

  42. AxeCityNo Gravatar says:

    Great resources and a very important issue to mention for all online publishers, thanks Barbara.

    AxeCitys last blog post..CSS Blockquotes Styles for blog themes

  43. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi AxeCity,

    You’re welcome!