Understanding copyright isn't that complicated, and anyone who ever writes anything for others to read - on facebook, twitter, a blog, a newspaper, or even a school assignment, for example - needs to know something about it.
You don't need to contact me for permission if all you are doing is giving a link to the page, like this:
Hey facebook friends, check out this post Jean Ballard wrote about copyright: http://mylifewiththecritters.blogspot.ca/2010/08/not-about-critters-but-certainly-about.htmlBut if you are actually copying and pasting my photos or my story, even if you are cropping the photos or changing the story, you need to get permission. I have had wonderful requests from some of my blog readers who wanted to use an excerpt from a story or one of my images. And I am pretty generous with giving permission - I'll usually say "Sure, just put my name and blog address following the material." But if you don't ask, and/or don't get that permission, and I find out about it, expect to have me "in your face(book)". LOL
This week, the same person who stole my photo posted a dog story on her facebook page, and typed her own name at the end of the story. I happened to recognize the story - in fact, I have the book in which it was initially published. And I knew the person who posted it did not write it. So, in addition to placing a polite comment under the story pointing out this anomaly and providing the correct information, I contacted the real author to let her know.
By the time the real author checked the page, the person had deleted my comment and attached the correct name and source to the story. Okay - that partly corrects the problem. But she had printed the story in full without asking the author (who makes her income from selling her stories) for permission. Why would someone buy the author's book if they can read it for free, in its entirety, on someone's facebook page? A page which, if the stats are to be believed, is "liked" by nearly 300,000 people, each of whom can share it with others? When the real author reached out on her own facebook page for advice on how to handle such issues, the one who stole her story became nasty. Really nasty. Just as she had with me. And with several others before me.
A quick scroll down the Nasty Person's facebook page revealed another dog story with no credit given - another familiar one, by yet another author. These are not oversights - I learned of the theft of my photo from others who had seen their images and words stolen by the same person and we had ALL informed her of copyright laws. She is clearly choosing to ignore the law, she deletes our comments, and she continues to profit from the creativity of others. It infuriates me.
But I see it all the time - people download my photos every week, and occasionally whole blog entries. My site tracker provides me with this information. The site tracker only tells me their IP number, the city they live in, and what material they downloaded. But if I search the web using one of the various websites available such as Google Image Reverse or Copyscape and find the material used elsewhere without credit, I follow up.
It pains me to see how many people post things on facebook, blogs and other internet spaces or in print materials without giving credit. Art is WORK, and it comes from our hearts, our minds, our bodies - whether it is photography, writing, painting, sketching, sculpting, or any other kind of creative endeavor. To use it without the artist's permission and without due credit is to steal their labour and their soul.
My earlier post, at the beginning of this entry, gives some guidelines for Copyright in Canada. And there are other good resources out there. Here's two I like:
This one explains in everyday words how to know what you can or can't copy and share on facebook : http://iambaker.net/what-every-facebook-user-needs-to-know/
And this one suggests some things you can do to protect your own work. While specific to American copyright law, it contains some generic tips that apply to any country:
And now, please share. I'm putting a link to this blog entry on my facebook page to facilitate spreading the word. If you don't like facebook (okay, I don't like it either but I concede that it has its uses), you can click on the title of this post, wait a sec, and then copy the URL - that way, even if I've posted a dozen more entries, the person to whom you send the link will get this particular page rather than the start of the blog itself. And since all you did was send them the link, you aren't violating copyright.
Let's respect the artists among us.