Sunday, March 18, 2012

Copyrighting Your Blog Pt.1

So I hope you guys all went back and backed up your blogs right away. It's just like that essay or research paper you were writing before the power went out or your computer froze. It's a terrible feeling to lose all that material.
Then again, there are some blogs out there that aren't worth saving. But those Followers of mine aren't reading these posts anyway.
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While I'm on the topic of blog protection let's talk about something that's tickled my fancy this past week: Copyrighting the blog.

First off, technically speaking, any original material you've created is automatically protected under copyright law when you publish it. i.e. actually Publish the post on your blog. (Draft posts don't count, see?)
So then, your work is done, right? My work is done, end post, that's all I had to say, yeah? Nope.
Registering your blog with the Copyright Office gives you a lot more legal clout and substantial perks in the event you actually take someone to court over infringement.

N.B. I'm talking about U.S. copyright law and the U.S. Copyright Office, so my foreign Followers should probably check to make sure the stuff I say here applies in your home country's system before doing anything.

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I know there are some of you out there who've encountered MyFreeCopyright.com, myself included.
You might have wondered, "Is this a scam?" Well, I can put your mind at ease on that: As far as I can see, it is not. In fact, it does do two very important things:
  1. It lets people know that you are at least minimally aware of copyright law and that you have taken even the slightest interest in protecting your intellectual property (IP). 
  2. You've given them Notice of Copyright, that is to say, you've displayed the fact that what they are reading is protected, that it is owned by someone and not Public Domain content.
Beyond those two things though, MyFreeCopyright does not do much more. If you poked around the site like I did and browsed the Copyrights, you may have noticed how disorganized the categories are. 
For example, apparently some people are really interested in protecting their online handles.
The following list displays individual categories created by copyright makers on the site for their claims:
  • Alias
  • Alias / Rap Name
  • Alias Including Artist/Poetess Work Name
  • Alias Name
  • Alias, Display Name, Name, And Nickname
  • Alias, Pseudonym
  • Alias,Catch Phrases [sic]
  • Alias/Pseudonym
  • Alias/Pseudonym/Legal Document
  • Alias/Rap Name
  • Alias/Stage Name
 Some of these categories only contain one entry, the guy who made up the category in the first place.

And the here's the punch line: YOU CAN'T COPYRIGHT A NAME.

 None of those copyrights are legal. So, as you should gather, MyFreeCopyright.com isn't quite what you'd call 'legit', either.
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So where does that leave us? Well, for the time being, I'm going to leave the MFC badge on my sidebar for Notice of Copyright purposes. It is important, by the way.
Or you could leave a little Notice at the footer of your blog, which I've also done. It can look as simple and concise as this: [Copyright ©]. As I said, your work does have automatic protection when published and you are legally allowed to use this Notice if it is your own work. There are penalties for fraudulent use of the copyright notice by the way, so if your blog is nothing but photos and images you've taken from elsewhere on the internet, for one thing it's probably not worth copyrighting, and claiming copyright on it anyway is illegal.

On a sidenote, big publishing companies make fraudulent copyright claims on public domain materials all the time but that's neither here nor there. Don't follow their example, please.

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I'll tell you what I'm doing to go one step further tomorrow. In the meantime, back up your blog already, man!