Claire King


Posts Tagged ‘Copyright’

Copy, right?

Posted on: August 2nd, 2012 by Claire - 27 Comments


This week I asked a blogger who had copy/pasted an entire post of mine, to please take it down. She did, immediately. Thank you, Blogger.

I also want to say that she had not tried to pass the work off as her own (plagiarism) – she had attributed it to me and put a link to my site. It’s lovely to be appreciated. So why did I ask her to take it down? Partly it’s a copyright issue, and partly it’s etiquette.

The etiquette issue is purely emotional. One of the wonderful things about the web is the free availability of information and ease of access and sharing that information. It was born in that spirit (à la Tim Berners-Lee “This is for everyone.”) But I honestly believe that if someone makes something available that you appreciate, whether it is a blog post, a video, a photograph, an essay…whatever it is…etiquette demands that you share it by pointing people to that person’s site, where you can see their work.

But she did link to your site!

Yes. The issue was that despite the link to my site, the post was a a full copy/paste. If it had been a couple of lines, plus the link to my post and then – here’s the thing – her further thoughts on the topic – then that would have been great. That is a discussion started that without the web would never have taken place. But a copy/paste of the whole post with no further comment feels wrong to me.

If in doubt, it’s always courteous to ask if you can share someone’s work. If you can do that, they’ll tell you what they’d prefer.

The copyright issue is simpler to explain. Although it was ‘only’ a blog post, I wrote it. And I have also written a novel, and early next year it’s coming out and I’m hoping that people will want to buy it with actual money that will pay for things like food and rent while I write another one. Practically I know that sooner or later it will crop up on the web in a form where somebody who wants to read it, but doesn’t want to pay for it will be able to have it for free. It happens. But here is my issue with that: I think many people believe that this is OK. That “one of the things that is great about the internet is all the great stuff you can get for free.”

Because it’s not like someone walking into my house and taking my things, is it? Because digital work is not tangible. You can take it, but it’s still there!

Some would argue that copyright makes no sense on the internet because it’s hard to enforce, and hey, in the end it’s just marketing. If someone downloads a free copy of my book (that I didn’t make available for free) they will then go and read the next one. And maybe they’ll pay for that one.

Will they? Will they really?

What do you think?


Further reading:

Recently Roni Loren posted here about how she was sued for using pictures on her blog that she found on the internet. In the process of this she has found out what the law says about this. If you have a blog you should read her post.

For a short discussion on the difference between theft, copyright infringement and patent infringement, take a look at this post from Notch (the software developer responsible for Minecraft).