A very informative post was written on Inciting a Riot regarding this issue. I recommend checking it out.
Here are a list of sites that will help you determine if your content has a copyright, these are not the only ones available.
Google Image Search
Blogger Copyright Tips
What Bloggers Should Know About Copyright - Social Media Today
Bloggers Beware, You Can Be Sued.... Roni Loren
Copyright Tools - American Library Association
Disable Select Text From Your Blog - Blogger Tips & Tricks
Top 10 Copyright Myths
Common Examples of Copyright Infringement
Copyright Infringement can come in forms of written works, photos and images, videos and audio. With the changes in the internet, the ease of locating content to share with friends and family is as wide as the world wide web. From text books, e-books and pdfs, the ability to copy content and share it in an instant is unimaginable.
Sites like Piratebay care sometimes called peer to peer file share. This is where individuals upload movies, music and television shows for others to download. Most of these peer to peer sites are free to use.
Even though no money is exchanged, this is still considered an infringement on the copyright of the original owner. This immediately let me to wonder if using sites like Youtube.com or Pinterest were legal?
Youtube and Pinterest have a page that explains the Terms of Service as it relates to copyright infringement. But Bloggers shouldn't worry, you can share/embed videos in your blog. The courts have ruled the viewing equates to embedding and embedding is not infringement. There are still some concerns around Pinterest.
A good rule to follow is make sure that you have permission to use the content you're using. Either directly from the artist or from Common Fair Use. When in doubt leave it out!
There are paid services that will monitor the web for your content. Sites like Copyscape and Secure Copyright Service offer monitoring for a fee.
One example of how NOT to use content found on the web is related to photos. Photography can be a great way to add emotion and power to your blog posts. Finding great photos is easy since we have Google.
The best way to avoid infringement on photos is very basic. Take your own photos. This will eliminate the need to get permission to use the photo. If you cannot take your own photo the next best way to avoid issues is to get permissions from the owner of the photo. Now, keep in mind the owner of the photo is not always the person being photographed.
A few years ago I was photographed for a newspaper article in San Francisco. When I found the photo online I contacted the paper to get a copy of the photo for framing. I was informed by the paper that the photographer had to send me the photo because he actually owned it. So even though, I was in the photo and the photo appeared on the website of the paper, the photographer actually owned the rights to the photo.
Some Photographers will add watermarks to their photos. These watermarks are sometimes the owners name, or other identifying marks. Removing these marks and or replacing those marks (also called Image Watermark Hijacking) can result in fines ranging from $2500 - $25,000.
Plagiarism Today calls said:
"From the legal perspective, watermark hijacking is one of the worst kinds of infringement you can possibly engage in.
First, there would be almost no fair use argument that could be reasonably made. Removing a watermark shows a great deal of bad faith and can greatly harm the potential market for a work. Even if other elements of the use were fair, that would be two major strikes against it in any such argument."
The following image was provided on Plagiarism Today as an example.
Here is an example of a photo for sale with a watermark.
|Photo with watermark on www.fineartamerica.com - Photographer & Date are shown|
This is the same photo with the watermark removed and replaced with a new mark
|This is a screenshot that was taken on 9/2/2013 and has since been removed. |
It was added to Facebook on the date shown.
*The above images are screenshots that I took on my computer. These content of the screenshot is used under the fair use doctrine.
Adding a Watermark
The following screenshots show where an image has been found on the web and a watermark applied after the fact.
|Screenshot - Renee Olson|
|Screenshot of Google Image Search - Renee Olson|
Here is another example of finding an image and applying a watermark.
|Screenshot from ArtisanWitchcrafts' Etsy Shop|
|This is the copyright information on the same page|
|This is an image from a Facebook Page with a new watermark|