Over the next few weeks or months, I’m going to be sharing tips and ideas for newbie bloggers or those of you just considering starting a blog. Blogging Basics is going to be a really informal thing, meaning don’t necessarily look for it on a predictably regular basis. This week, we’ll be starting with some tips on the etiquette of sharing a blog post when it comes to properly sharing posts that you’ve enjoyed by other bloggers.
First, one very basic point – blog is short for weblog. A blog consists of all the posts on the site. A single entry on a blog is commonly referred to as a “post” or an “article.” Sometimes I hear people refer to a blog when they clearly mean a blog post.
If you’ve been reading blogs for awhile, you’ve probably come across a post that you really enjoyed – one that you’d like to share. Bloggers love when you enjoy their writing enough to want to share it, but there are some do’s and don’ts when it comes to properly – and legally – sharing someone else’s work.
Understand Copyright Laws
It’s important to understand copyright laws. A blogger’s original words and photographs are their work. Original text and photos cannot be reprinted on someone else’s blog without the original author’s permission. Copying and pasting another blogger’s work on your blog without permission is a violation of the Digital Media Copyright Act. It may seem like sharing, but it is stealing.
Common thinking is that it’s a compliment to the blogger to share their post with your readers. It is a compliment, but the correct way to share is to link back to the original post. You can do so a couple of ways:
1. Share a snippet of the of the post – a couple of sentences, but no more than a paragraph and not the first 150 characters (more on that coming up) – with a link back for your readers to read the rest of the post.
2. Write a response to the post you enjoyed with a link back to the original post.
3. Tell your readers what you enjoyed about the original post and include a link back for your readers to read the rest.
Think of sharing a blog post like sharing a great book with a friend. Linking back to the original post is kind of like loaning the book out to a friend to read. Copying and posting the entire post on your blog is more like photocopying the entire book and passing it out to everyone you see.
So, what’s wrong with sharing the first 150 characters? Google looks at the first 150 characters for search engine results. If Google finds the same content on multiple sites, it’s flagged as duplicate content and isn’t shown (or ranks much lower) in search engine results, which makes it harder for readers to find either site – the original or the one that shared the post.
Photos are covered under copyright laws just like blog posts. You can’t use another blogger’s photos without their consent. One exception to that is using a photo from other blogger’s sites for posts that have been submitted for use on your blog. For example, when someone submits a post to be shared on the Homeschool Showcase, a right to use a single photo with the post link is implied. I always include a photo credit and link the photo to the original blog post.
It’s best to use your own photos – and it’s really important that you’re using quality photos in your blog posts. If you don’t have a photo that fits the post, though, a great source for photos is flickr creative commons. When someone shares their photos on a site such as flickr with a creative commons license, you are free to use that photo with attribution. Under the license heading, click the some rights reserved link to see if and how you can use the photo.
With most creative commons photos, you can use the photo – and even make some modifications to it, such as adding text – as long as you credit the photographer (usually by linking to the original photo or profile page).
Sharing another blogger or photographer’s work is a great compliment…when it’s done correctly. When it’s done incorrectly, it feels a lot like having your work stolen and it hurts everyone.
If your work has been taken without permission, the best way to handle it is calmly and with grace, as most times I think it’s done in ignorance, rather than out of malice. If you find your work used without permission:
1. Email the blogger. If you can find the blogger’s contact information, email her privately. Explain that the article or photograph was used without permission and that this is a copyright If your infringement. Ask that the content be removed according to DCMA regulations.
2. Contact the site administrator. If your work has been shared on a website or forum, rather than on a blog, look for the site administrator’s contact information and send your DCMA take-down request to that address. Site administrators usually handle that very quickly because copyright violations are detrimental to their site.
3. Check WhoIs. If you can’t find an email address on the site, sometimes you can find out who the site is registered to by using a domain name search.
4. Hit them in the wallet. If it’s clear that the site using your material is a commercial site – in other words, your material is not being used innocently – Problogger has some excellent tips for how to hit the content scrappers where it hurts.
I hope these tips help you to understand how to correctly share someone else’s work and what to do if someone uses your content without your permission. If you’ve ever found your content used elsewhere, what tips would you add for how to handle it?