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5 Intellectual Property Laws about the Internet Bloggers Need to Know

This is a guest contribution from  JT Ripton, a Freelance writer from Tampa.

An image depicting IP Law

Image via Flickr by auggie tolosa

Intellectual property law protects much of the content that you enjoy on the internet. Though you aren’t always required to pay to enjoy this content, that doesn’t make it free for all types of use. Since many intellectual property laws haven’t yet been adapted specifically for the Internet, here’s a rundown of the basics you can use to safely guide your decisions.

Photos and Images are Not Free for Use

Quick and simple searches like Google Images make it seem like the Internet is overflowing with free photos and images. However, copyright law protects most of these photos. If you’re looking for images you can post on your blog, you need to look for those with a Creative Commons license. You can also pay for rights to use certain images.

Creative Commons Licenses Come in Different Forms

Creative Common licenses give you access to various forms of intellectual property. There are many different types of Creative Commons licenses. Before using something that’s protected under this type of license, you must carefully look at it to decide exactly how you can use the image. Some licenses allow commercial use while others do not. Some allow you to alter an image while others stipulate that it must stay in its original form. Attribution is typically required.

Most Movies, Music, and Television are Protected

Although there are many sites where you can get access to movies, television shows, and music for free, these downloads are typically illegal. Though the sites themselves are not violating any laws, you are if you share or download copyrighted material. You can legally view some movies and shows online, but you cannot download them. Network sites often show recent episodes of popular shows and sites like Netflix and Hulu offer access to movies and shows with a paid subscription.

Plagiarism Isn’t Just for School Papers

You undoubtedly learned about the dangers of plagiarism in high school and college, but these laws’ importance doesn’t end when you’re finished writing term papers and dissertations. Whether you have a blog yourself or you write for others, you cannot reproduce another’s intellectual property and take credit for it as your own. Cite your sources, use quotation marks when needed, and try to limit your works to your own unique ideas as much as possible. Referencing another article and quoting from a book are fine. Reposting an entire article or chapter of a published piece are not.

Permission Trumps All

When in doubt about a work, simply ask for permission to use it. Just as the Internet make it easy to find works, so too does it make it easy to contact creators. Many will gladly give you the necessary permissions when requested.

The Internet is a great forum for sharing everything from thoughts and ideas to your original photos, films, and musical works. However, it’s essential that you always think about who has the rights to the content in question and act so that you do not violate them.

JT Ripton is a Freelance writer from Tampa, FL, he’s been using the internet before most people even knew what it was.  JT writes about several of his interests including, blogging, all things tech, and useful tips and idea’s for a myriad of things. He likes to write to inform and intrigue.

About Guest Blogger
This post was written by a guest contributor. Please see their details in the post above.
  1. Very true. I see a lot of people using photos without permission, and adding copyrighted music to their youtube videos without the proper permission. I don’t think it’s likely they’ll ever get sued for it, but I’m not one to take chances. Especially with all the great royalty free stuff out there these days, I just don’t think using copyrighted stuff is smart or even worth it.

  2. I often use Google images on my blog posts. But from now onwards, I’ll more careful when I have to choose a picture from Google for my post.

  3. hi JT

    I’ve seen a smart marketer using YouTube videos on his niche blogs… he pays others (usually a skilled writer) to transcribe the videos and post them onto the site… his page has the text, the video and some relevant photo captions…

    He requires permission before he does that, and almost always the response he receives is a surrounding “YES”!

    What do you guys think about this content generating method, did you try it yet?

  4. I personally don’t have the time to faff around looking for half-decent free pictures to accompany my blog posts.

    Instead, I buy my pics from a stock photography website. I’m not quite sure why, if you’re a regular blogger, you wouldn’t do the same.

    I usually find a great picture in no next to no time at all. And because you only need the smallest size of picture (which looks fine on-screen) it generally costs just a few pence or cents.

    In other words, for the sake saving so little, why waste so much valuable time?

  5. You are right Intellectual property law are very sensitive.
    There for every blogger must have to take care.
    Thank you for sharing this important article with us.

    ….. :)

  6. Brando says: 08/16/2013 at 8:58 am

    I’m well aware of the restrictions and laws regarding use of media via blogs but what about social media? Do the same restrictions carry over and if so doesn’t that kill the sharability of content? I see a lot of companies and businesses sharing photos without citing their sources on their SM sites that they pulled from Google images. Any site recommendations for royalty free content?

  7. This is a great post, and it comes from a very moral place. But the internet is increasingly populated by the uneducated or undereducated masses, who neither know what plagiarism is or don’t care. A revolution in copyright and intellectual property policies is coming, I think. Intellectual property laws come from a rather selfish place of wanting credit and monetary attribution for our “unique ideas,” but with a massive locus of ideas like the internet, what right do we have to say any idea or creation is originally ours? We are always inspired by other things; it’s time we acknowledge that it’s impossible to legally regulate creation on this scale, unless the masses – educated and uneducated – suddenly agree to make the effort (unlikely).

  8. I see blogs pulling images from tumblr and the like, images from shows such as Breaking Bad. Does that make it ok? Will the owners go after the tumblr poster rather than the blog poster?

  9. I recently found that one of my graphics used originally for a blog post, being used to create an online advertisement for a website. I was never asked for permission. And my emails pointing it out went unanswered. I see that those images keep coming up in Google searches, and it’s pretty sad since I worked hard to create them. Is there anything I can do to get them removed?

    Here’s the link to advertising page http://www.orexinal.com/

    And here’s my original post using the graphic http://www.sleepwriter.com/2012/06/7-myths-of-drowsy-driving.html

  10. When i was started my blogging in 2009, i used images without permission. But now i never used any images without permission. Most time i try to create a new one by photoshop.

    Nice share, thanks.

  11. Great article! I continue to be amazed by the number of bloggers that “borrow” images from books and magazines, sometimes giving attribution, and sometimes – not. Giving attribution on copyrighted work you do not have permission to use still does not make it ok. They either don’t “get it,” figure they will never get caught… or unfortunately don’t care.

  12. Great reminder about the importance of knowing the intellectual property laws, thank you for this wonderful article!

  13. I was not aware of this intellectual Property Laws in the field of internet and only after reading this I came to know about all this information.

  14. Wow. This is a great post. I did not know that we can not use images of others in our blog. we must give credits of those images to others and i will give credits to others too from now on.

    • John Lockard says: 08/17/2013 at 3:03 pm

      Saif, you need to read the article more closely. It is not enough to credit the owner of a photograph. Depending on the license on the photo you may need permission or may need to pay to use it as well.

  15. Great article and a good reminder for people who think they are free to use everything they find online.

  16. I understand about citation and giving credit to the author. Are there any problems with citing other bloggers without their permission? If I read something interesting and I want to blog about the same topic, can I site that blog and author without asking them or do I need their permission to cite them?

    Thank you for your help. Great article.

  17. I run a movies website noobmovies.com but I’m always careful to either use creative commons images. If it’s not using that it’s using movie images provided to me with consent from the copyright holders.

    Being in the movie industry I hate to see copyright violators using images they don’t have permission to use in the first place just to point to a torrent site. Simply unbelievable.

  18. thank you for this post on ip rights and usage, as a photographer it is much appreciated!

  19. Thanks for telling people something that we all already know. So much for “quality” content….

  20. Great article and information. All I can say is that we gotta be really careful of what we gonna put on the internet

  21. Awesome. Í had a blog and i had been using Google Images in posts. Google blocked my addsence due to the issue of copyright. So, it could be harmful for you to use Google Images.

    I want to know that if we want to rewrite others articles, Will it be good for my blog or not?

  22. Finding photos and images can be difficult with intellectual property laws and I tend to get images from either a website such stock.xchng, Microsoft word images/photos, or by using the advanced feature of Google Images to search for images by usage rights.

  23. I think i need to work on the image part because i do copy images on google images.

    Nice post here

  24. I only recently started my blog, but since the start I have either made my own images or I use ones from stock photography sites after checking how I am allowed to use them.

  25. This is a pretty tricky issue! I have gotten a lot of photos through creative commons in the past, but have recently begun steering away from that. I read an article discussing how easy it is for an owner of a photograph to just up and change the permission from creative commons to “non-creative-commons”… and there’s no record. So if you have a creative commons photo on your site, the owner could remove the CC license and then come after you for copyright violation, and you’d have no proof… unless you took a screen shot of the photo with the CC license, I suppose? Do you have any thoughts on this potential issue?

  26. This is quite useful for all the newbies as most of them do not take most of these laws seriously. Image copyrights is the biggest issue of all. Lovely post .

  27. Hi Darren,
    this post is awesome, I have worked on a game project recently and used some mp3 tracks that were supposed to be royalty free, then it turned out that they were copyrighted for another company. I won’t trust any seller of media files online before making research about the material

  28. Well using others photo & images are not good idea. Before using it we need to take a permission.

  29. Thanks Ripton for the reminder.

  30. Everystockphoto.com is great for finding stock pics with creative commons licences from a variety of places like flickr/commons and morguefile. You can easily review the license and download images for free and be sure you arent violating copywrite. I just search there instead of goggle images.

  31. This is an amazing article. I think EVERY blogger, whether new or experienced, should read this. Thanks for writing it!

  32. Good warnings to everyone. Even photos are not free for all. Make sure you have permission before using, else you’ll spend more time fighting laws than working on your own business. Not worth it.

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