The black, white, and gray of cross linking, reposting, and media rights


Over the past few days, the WPBeginner team has been in New York City at Blog World Expo East. While here we have the pleasure of being able to share interesting sessions with you like this panel, presented by Randy Adler, Christopher Prince Boucher, Jessica Kantor, and Bob Knorpp.

Online content is competing with traditional print media every day. But unlike print media, online content is a space where the rules of copyright are blurred. Content sharing is huge on blogs and so much less so in traditional media, making it especially hard for big news giants to make the transformation from print to blog without some growing pains.

The fact of the matter is, people are going to find and share your information. If you do not allow them to, by providing avenues for them to interact with you and get your permission for sharing, they will either steal your content or torrent it. Unfortunately, the legal world puts the burden on the copyright owner to protect and police their copyright, so if copyright infringement is happening but you don’t know by who or how you are pretty much out of luck.

Copyright law is more theoretical than legal. The copyright holder is the knight in shining armor for their defenseless copyright, but there is no legal mandate that you protect your copyright. You can allow infringement or police it, but the best option in the panels opinion is to allow for users to share without the danger of infringement. By providing safe sharing options, you allow for interaction without infringement.

But what about the copyright repercussions of content aggregators? When sharing someone else’s content on your blog, you can either parse the first few lines of the person’s content before linking or you can briefly summarize why you think the person should read the content before linking. Then, before you post, ask the creator of the content and ask them in writing (email works well for this) for permission to post. This is a step that many people skip, but if your blog is ever taken down for infringement, this could be the only way for you to prove you had permission to use that person’s content. This is a time consuming process, so if you have a source you frequently link to, contact them and ask for blanket permission to repost.

As for images, you best option is to take the time to find and use images that are your own. This avoids possible copyright infringement and it allows you to post truly original image content. If you do go this route, a copyright symbol, your first and last name, and the year the image was taken watermarked along the photo’s bottom are enough for you to claim copyright infringement later on if someone steals your image.

If you do not or cannot create your own images, contacting the owner is another way you can avoid copyright issues later on. Always link to and attribute the author with each and every picture. This avoids any problems later on. Not doing so (or doing so but not keeping a record of consent) opens you up to the possibility of problems later on.


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