As an online writer, do you know how to stay on the right side of the (copyright) law? You don’t have to be a lawyer to understand the laws that govern internet content and blogging. Here are the most important ones:
1. Use of images from other websites and blogs
You do not have permission to use just any image you find on the internet. But how can you legally use images? You can simply buy royalty-free images and not have to worry about copyright. Or you can ask for permission to use it when you find an image you like on someone else’s website. A sign of good manners and a thank you to the creator is to have a link to his site and/or giving him credit.
Another great source to find free images is to visit the Creative Commons photos on sites such as Morguefile or Flickr. These photos do not have copyright restrictions and show Creative Common attributes, such as “share” or “non-commercial use.” No matter which photos you use, it’s still polite and shows professionalism, to link to the original web page or give credit to/naming the photographer.
2. Disclose paid endorsements
Bloggers and internet content writers must be open with the fact that they are being paid to use, promote, or review a product. Do not claim to be an objective third-party when you are not. Make it perfectly clear which information is editorial and which is advertising. This could mean labeling links that drive to your Amazon affiliates, or building a page that explains all of your affiliates and relationships.
3. Deep linking and framing
It may surprise bloggers and internet content writers whether deep linking is even legal. Deep linking is where you write a blog post and then link to another website in that post. However, you don’t link directly to the homepage: you link to a page buried on the site. From the perspective of a blogger, it makes more sense to link directly to the page that you are referring to than it does to link to the home page, and then hope the reader can find the information you are referring to.
On the other hand, deep linking and framing are such accepted SEO practices that there is no reason you should worry that someone might sue you if you deep link to their site. In fact, most people encourage the practice since it brings exposure to their site.
4. User-developed content
5. Protect visitor’s private information
However what should you do when someone steals YOUR internet content?
If you are creating compelling content, someone might take it and uses it on their site. Sometimes they do it without knowing that they are breaking the law. They may even give you credit and link to your website. If you want to protect your work, send them an email and let them know that what they are doing is copyright infringement. If you are dealing with a reasonable person, they will probably apologize and take your content down. If you’re dealing with somebody who doesn’t comply, you might consider pursuing legal action which is often difficult and expensive. You can usually discourage people from taking your content by putting a copyright symbol on the footer of your website so it appears on every page, also your work is protected by copyright law the moment you publish it. Even if you don’t have a copyright symbol, you are still protected.
On the other hand: some authors consider the value of spreading their work through copying to be worth more than protecting and defending their rights.