Last Updated on July 31, 2020
Great Writers Steal
The saying “imitation is the highest form of flattery” doesn’t necessarily apply to website content. In fact, it can get you into serious trouble. It’s well known that Google punishes duplicate content unless it’s marked as “canonical”. But some argue that there’s no such thing as original content anymore. We’re just reshuffling the cards already dealt. I’d like to think otherwise. Not because it’s untrue, but it would be a sad world if nothing new was created. Even so, with millions of bloggers posting website content daily, how do you legally riff on the ongoing online conversation without crossing the line?Ready to Talk?
Obey Copyright Rules
According to the Copyright.gov website “copyright is a form of intellectual property, [that] protects original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture.” You don’t have to worry about copyright infringement regarding facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation (but it may offer protection on how they are expressed). If you’ve got insomnia and want a little light reading on the subject, we suggest this 12-page circular about copyright basics covering Title 17, U.S. Code.
As we’ve mentioned in earlier posts, we are big fans of creative commons as it allows legal sharing of creativity. For example, you’ll notice the images we use on our site are available on flickr.com or other image sharing websites. We are careful to give artists credit — or attribution — for their art. We also comment on their photostream, giving them feedback on how and where we used their art. On Flickr, you can search specifically for creative commons images, including those you can use for free even for commercial purposes.
Protect & Measure Website Content
Ever wonder who might be “borrowing” your website content? There are several tools to help you monitor your killer content.
- Google Alerts – set up alerts to see when your copyrighted material is posted. These alerts can be set at whatever frequency you can handle.
- Copyscape – is a nifty tool that will compare an URL page and see if it’s been copied verbatim elsewhere on the web.
Lastly, you could add a copyright to your website’s footer. Even though it offers little practical protection, it might make you feel better and could deter someone from ripping off your ideas.