Your blog and website are your or your business’s intellectual property. If you find that someone has stolen your blog content, what should you do? In this article, I’m going to show you how to protect your blog content from copyright infringement.
Blogs are intensely personal creations in that they are difficult to develop and require a tremendous amount of work to consistently create and publish valuable content. Do you have a blog that you wish to protect? Or, in another form, do you want to reduce the risk that others may take your content and use it as their own?
Hopefully, your answer to this question is a resounding yes; your creative written work is extraordinarily valuable intellectual property and it’s important to create a plan to both mitigate the chances of your work being stolen and determining how to proceed if someone has, in fact, misappropriated your work.
What Does a Copyright Cover?
Copyright law is among the oldest in our nation’s history and is grounded in Article I Section 8 of the Constitution. Copyrights are a form of intellectual property; whereas trademarks are designed to protect the branding assets of a company, Copyrights are intended to protect the substantive body of literary works of that individual and/or company. Copyrights cover original works of authorship including literary works, musical works, artistic works, etc.
How Does One Obtain a Copyright?
A little-known fact is that the author of a creative work owns the “Copyright” to that work from the moment that the work is put into tangible form.
This is a tremendously powerful statement; one does not obtain copyright protection on work by registering it with the United States Copyright Office but rather by simply “fixing it in a tangible form”. What is the right held by a Copyright holder? Principally, the holder of a Copyright has the exclusive right to recreate, reproduce, sell, and/or distribute the Copyrighted work.
Any person/entity which recreates, reproduces, sells, and/or distributes the Copyrighted work without the permission of the copyright holder will be said to have engaged in Copyright infringement and may be subject to serious legal ramifications and penalties.
Register Your Blog Posts with the Copyright Office in the U.S.
If one obtains Copyright protection by simply creating the work, what is the point of registering it with the United States Copyright Office? Well, while it is true that your blog post is officially “Copyrighted” the moment it is put into physical form, the owner of the Copyright can only sue the infringer if the owner has registered the work with the Copyright office. Indeed, if the owner of Copyright has registered the work before the copyright infringement has taken place, a Court may provide damages including lost profits from the infringing activity and/or statutory damages ranging from several hundred dollars all the way up to $150,000.
It should hopefully be self-evident at this point that authors who care deeply about the proprietary rights to their blog posts and certainly those who have achieved a large number of readers would be wise to register their blog posts with the Copyright Office. To do so, please visit the U.S. Copyright website and submit the appropriate Copyright application and fees. You’ll need to know.
- The correct type of Copyright Application (literary work, musical work, etc.)
- The Title of the Work
- The Author (s)
- Creation/Publication Date of Work
- Claimants of Ownership
For first-time Copyright Applicants, this may be a challenging undertaking so please make sure to consult with a specialist.
- “No content on and/or from this website may be sold or rented without permission from the owner of this website.”
- “No content on and/or from this website may be copied and/or downloaded and/or reproduced without permission from the owner of this website.”
- “No content on and/or from this website may be exploited without permission from the owner of this website.”
Drafting the Terms of Service Agreement
To create the Terms of Service for your site, you should strongly consider hiring an attorney who is well-versed in e-commerce and website laws. You can also purchase a legal template from a legal site that offers this type of product.
Never copy the terms of service from another website or blog. Doing so makes you an infringer (which would be the height of irony!). Either follow a template or, better yet, consult an attorney.
Someone Has Plagiarized My Blog Posts: Now What?
It is very often the case that people infringe on the Copyrights of others by mistake. Most people are simply not familiar with Copyright law and assume that if a picture is available on Google, it must be permissible to use. In these instances, it may very well be sufficient to send the infringer a cease and desist letter stating your rights to the infringed work and how/why they are infringing on your rights and respectfully ask them to take down your intellectual property.
If this doesn’t work, you may need to send a more strongly worded and formal letter from an attorney’s office which details with legal precision the specific nature of the infringement and the consequences of not heeding your requests.
Going to Court
Lawsuits are incredibly expensive and challenging to prosecute and even if the plaintiff were to prevail, that does not necessarily mean that he/she will end up with any money. Indeed, collecting money that a court orders an adversary to pay is often the hardest part of the entire judicial process and can take years.
Thus, suing a person in Court should be done only when all other negotiations are exhausted. However, if you do find yourself in this position where going to court is the only way forward, please hire an experienced attorney. Copyright litigation happens in Federal, rather than state court, because it is considered a “Federal Question” and thus falls under the purview of Federal jurisdiction. Yes – it’s complicated. But if you win, a successful lawsuit may mean a huge sum of winnings.
Final Thoughts on Protecting Your Blog Content From Copyright Infringement
In sum, it is up to you to protect your intellectual property from copyright infringement. Register your blog posts with the Copyright Office! Remember, if you don’t register your site’s content, you are severely limited in the legal recourse you may take against the infringer.
You may also like to read:
- Top 7 WordPress plugins to protect your content from being stolen, or getting copied
- 7 best WordPress security plugins for website protection
- Why Cloudways is our choice for WordPress hosting
- How to approach cybersecurity in business
About the author: Lori Wade is a journalist from Louisville. She is a content writer who has experience in small editions, Lori is now engaged in news and conceptual articles on the topic of business. If you are interested in an entrepreneur or lifestyle, you can find her on Twitter & LinkedIn. She has good experience and knowledge in the field.