Copyright Law

By Laurie Epps

Hi everyone. It's good to be back. We're still working from Edie's book, Connections: Social Media and Networking Techniques for Writers. Today's topic is very sensitive, and there's a lot of layers to learning all the different copyright laws. Instead of trying to give you every copyright law ever written, this blog will focus on the basics for most writers. If you want to go more in-depth, look at pages 109-114 of our text.

****Disclaimer: Edie Melson and I aren't attorneys, and this isn't meant to be a source of legal counsel. Instead, it's meant to be an introduction to Copyright Law.

Some basic copyright truths:

  1. Just because you link a picture back to a site, doesn't make it ok.
  2. If you find a picture in a public place or domain, that doesn't mean it's ok to use. (Still regular copyright laws apply.)
  3. You can legally use the title of a song in a post, article, or book. Well, it depends on the following: purpose & character of your use, the nature of the copyrighted work, what the amount & proportion of the whole work was taken, and lastly, the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of copyrighted work.
  4. Never can you repost someone else's blog without their consent.
  5. Never can you use someone else's song as a background for a video without the composers consent.
  6. However, you can legally repost you tube videos to your blog or web address as long as it links to the you tube site.
  7. Whether or not the artist is making money on the work on not has no bearing whatsoever of copyright legality.
  8. You can't legally post a small percentage of words from a song, post, article, or book without a degree of copyright infringement. (Reminder: With songs, you legally can use the title.) So be careful! Edie knows of two self-published authors who've had to pull their books off the shelves for this.
  9. IMPORTANT: For us as writers, you don't need to have the copyright symbol on your work for it to be protected.
  10. One important difference is that if you borrow a picture from Facebook, it's fair game. We all agreed to this when we signed the user agreement for Facebook.
  11. However, if you pin it to a Pinterest board, it's NOT in the scope of public domain. You need permission to pin (but not repin) it. For more details, see page 112.
  12. Legally you can post the cover of a book you're reviewing or recommending.
  13. Copyright law expires 70 years after the artist dies in most cases, but not all. Sometimes, it's renewed by the artist's family, or an endowment. It's a good place to start, but not a means to an end.




For more information about copyright law, go to: 
http://www.copyright.gov/laws/ 
or check out Edie's book on page 113.

Connect Activity:
It's important for you to know what you can use, and what you can't on your blog, site, or embedded in your work.

  • Look at old post, if you used song lyrics in the past, instead link it to a live performance on you tube.
  • Check the usage of images, if there's a watermark on it, you used it illegally.
  • Make sure you've not reproduced videos with songs you don't own the copyright to. (My musician friends will appreciate this.)
Next week: We're going to talk about how to protect yourself from hackers.

Laurie Epps is a recent graduate of Anderson University majoring in Creative Writing. Already Laurie is most published as a feature article writer, essayist, and poet. A seeker of beauty and world traveler, Laurie hopes to grow into a career in travel writing illuminating the many stories that make us human despite our differences. Currently, Laurie also has a Thoughtful Thursday column dedicated to the fine art of poetry.


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