Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Celebrate World Intellectual Property Day
April 26 is World Intellectual Property Day, and this year's theme is "Designing the Future." "Intellectual property" is writing, music, design, photography, and other creative works made by and therefore legally owned by an individual. The text and images on a blog, the original design of a ceramic or stitched piece, an illustration or art work, a recorded song--these are all examples of intellectual property that are legally protected from being reproduced.
Cassi of The Crafty Crow and Bella Dia just let me know that some of her blog posts (and a friend's and her sister's) and one of my tutorials had been copied almost in their entirety on another blog. The blog author included the photographs and word-for-word the instructions written by other authors. There was no link to the originating blog or any other indication of the original author of the posts.
I was stunned. The Crafty Crow provides a way to share free tutorials written by craft bloggers, and it's an amazing resource. But the site clearly attributes the source and links to the originating blog. Cassi had generously linked to my tutorial on the site. I had spent many, many hours taking the photographs, writing the text, and wrestling with Blogger on the formatting of the photographs so that the tutorial would be clear and easy to understand. I published the tutorial so that others could use it. I didn't publish it so that it could be stolen and passed off as someone else's work.
Cassi let me know how to get the stolen post taken down. I contacted the Wordpress blogger directly but also filled out a form through Wordpress that got the offending post removed. If you encounter this problem, the major blogging platforms provide a Digital Millennium Copyright Act Notice. This notice allows bloggers to report stolen posts that originate by Wordpress, Typepad, or Blogger (etc.) users. If you see a Wordpress blog that has stolen your work, you can report it on this form. The Typepad form is here. Blogger's is here. Google "Digital Millennium Copyright Act Notice" and the blogging platform to find the notice for other platforms.
I appreciate Cassi taking the time to let me know about the theft of my creative property and a way to address the issue. As a craft blogger, I feel that I am part of a generous, creative community.
I have looked into copyright issues a bit as a result of this incident. I found out that a published work such as a blog is automatically protected by copyright. A copyright notice, which I have added to the bottom of this page, is just a reminder to others that this work is protected. I have also added a restrictive Creative Commons license detailing how I'd like to share my text and images (as non-commercial links, and with attribution).
I urge you to educate yourself about intellectual property rights. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has several online publications that explain copyright issues. The World Intellectual Property Organization has an especially helpful pamphlet geared to kids (just my reading level!) that explains copyrights and what we can use from the Web in our own work. The U.K.'s Intellectual Property Office has some useful links related to protecting designs.
I know that this sort of stealing happens all the time. It's so easy to cut and paste someone's digital work. I also know that whatever measures we take to make copyright explicit will of course be ignored by the unscrupulous or uninformed. I hope that we can all use World Intellectual Property Day (and any opportunity we have) to spread the word about intellectual property rights. To stand up for our rights as blog creators and designers and artists as owners of the things we create.
Local chatter from ZenCrafter at 8:57 AM