Although intellectual property is a bit complicated when it comes to websites, you can still protect your work by registering its copyright. Of course, every country has its own intellectual property laws, and you should start from there. However, the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) and World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) are also useful in order to protect your blog more widely.
What is copyright?
Merriam-Webster dictionary defines copyright as “the exclusive legal right to reproduce, publish, sell, or distribute the matter and form of something (such as a literary, musical, or artistic work).”
Similar to that, WIPO states “Copyright (or author’s right) is a legal term used to describe the rights that creators have over their literary and artistic works. Works covered by copyright range from books, music, paintings, sculpture, and films, to computer programs, databases, advertisements, maps, and technical drawings.”
Plainly put, everything you create is yours. Whoever wants to use it has to have your permission, give you credit for it, compensate you or anything else defined by an agreement. But copyright is limited to protecting only the expressions of ideas, and not the ideas themselves. It also doesn’t include procedures and methods of operation and is also debatable when it comes to logos, titles, and slogans.
What rights do you have under the copyright protection?
Based on WIPO, you have economic and moral rights. The first allows you to receive a financial compensation for the use of your work. The latter give you other rights which don’t fall under the economic one.
Usually, most copyright laws agree upon the fact that owners of the work define their compensation and have the right to grant permission for use. This includes reproduction, public performance, recording, broadcasting, translation, and adaptation. When it comes to moral rights, those usually mean that you are recognized as the author of the work and you can object to changes that can affect your reputation.
Blogs and protection of content
The problem bloggers encounter often is that thieves of their work base their behavior on the notion that “it is better to ask forgiveness later.” However, sometimes it’s hard to keep track of your work, especially if it’s translated without permission. When you find out that your work was stolen you can try and use US Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DCMA) and submit a complaint to Google.
Based on the Berne Convention, your work is automatically copyrighted when published and you don’t need to register it separately — but knowing that this can be a tricky area sometimes, most countries allow for voluntary registration of copyright. This is important since it can solve disputes and help to legally define financial transactions and transfer of rights, as well as facilitate agreements between interested parties.
Including the symbol © for copyright is not required anymore by most of the countries but owners of rights like to use it nonetheless. It serves as a good reminder to anyone that the work on the blog is subject to copyright protection and that at least authors’ permission is required to use it any further.
Details on copyright protection and its duration vary from country to country, although the Berne Convention states that economic rights are valid for 50 or more years after the author’s death. You should check with your local intellectual property office to see if there are other timeframes in national legislation.
If your country is not a member of the Berne Convention than the national laws shall apply. To protect your work on an international level, you will have to see if you comply with the legal requirements of the desired country.
How to check for plagiarism?
If you want to check whether your work was plagiarised, use the Copyscape website to do so. You will have to insert the URL for content you suspect is plagiarised. This website is also useful if you want to check that you didn’t commit infringement.
You can also set Google Alerts with certain keywords and phrases. If any of them is found on other websites, you’ll be notified via email. Make sure that you focus on setting up the alert for some unique phrases on your blog in order to determine the real plagiarism and prevent false alarms.
Grammarly is another useful tool for detecting plagiarism which will also make sure that your grammar is correct and proofread your content. In this case, you will have to use pieces of your text or all of it and Grammarly will check if it is present anywhere else other than on your blog.
Copyright protection is complicated, as we mentioned before, but it’s not something you can’t achieve and strive to maintain for your blog. Although you will encounter challenges when trying to communicate and exercise your right as an author, in the end, the legislation is on your side.
Do everything you can to tell your visitors that unauthorized copying is not okay, but also offer reasonable solutions for using your texts. It is easy to come to an agreement if parties involved behave in civilized and morally respectable manner.
**About the Author: David Koller is a passionate blogger and copywriter for Media Gurus. He’s mainly interested in SEO and Digital Marketing.