Full Title: Intellectual Property and Blogging – a Note of Warning to Bloggers
Recently, I attended a speaking engagement on ‘The Central Role of Intellectual Property in the Global Media Industries’.The guest speaker was a top media IP (Intellectual Properties) lawyer. He spoke in depth about how people ignorantly or deliberately infringe on creative people’s rights, the different types of rights that exist and the available defences against those rights (outside of which the penalties range from huge fines to heavens-help-you-get-out).
As I was intent on taking something away with me from this talk, I posed the question below to the speaker:
As a blogger, am I liable to infringement when I get pictures off a website to use on my blog (that is none commercial by the way). I do include photo credits and even ping-backs (inserting links) to the site I get the picture from. Am I still liable?
The truth is that no matter how much credit you accord any content on your blog, if it is not originally your creation, it is a risk. It is best you go through the pains of seeking permission from the owner (whom is sometimes difficult to trace or just not available). Permission maybe granted freely, or you maybe asked to pay a fee.
I thought to myself that I have a beautiful Canon ‘Mitchell’ dutifully perched in a corner on my bookshelf. Like the prodigal son, I determined that henceforth on this blog, all pictures uploaded would be my creation. Heavens-help-you if you infringe without seeking permission 😀 (I mean it!). You do not have to have a DSLR to blog well. Some of you wield iPhones, Blackberrys, Androids etc, all these gadgets come with cameras you could use to take your own shots. Now, I want to imbibe the culture of building my photo library (when I can).
In law, ignorance is not an excuse to default. You may think the blogosphere is so broad that the chances of you getting
caught are really slim. However, I think it is best one imbibes the right culture now of respecting IP rights. If you want to tow the What’s-In-It-For-Me line, I’ll tell you:
- You don’t get to keep looking behind your shoulder if someone is going to sue you
- You get to improve your photography skills- a true blogger should have the total package as both a writer and a photographer
- Your work becomes really original, that boosts your credibility statistics
I could go on… But I’ll pause my sermon there and take you to the other points I gleaned from the talk.
Intellectual Property is a law that has to be enforced because it is wealth. It creates incentive for the original owner through sales, licensing etc. lawyers are another group of people that benefit from IP. Asides being wealth, IP is also territorial- that is, it s granted by specific legal systems in various countries. There is no overarching international covering when it comes to IP rights (more money for lawyers). They are exclusive private property, non-transferrable and inconsistently enforceable in different parts of the world. By the latter, I mean that some courts may be reluctant to enforce IP laws, while others may simply come up with a different interpretation of the law.
The group, Creative Commons have been clamouring for a laxation in IP laws to bolster creativity e.g. In parodies. Therefore, you are allowed to se certain works and not fall liable. However, note that their goal is not about entirely abandoning IP, but the dissemination of ideas. You are not ‘licensed’ by the commons to get money back off other people’s creative sweat.
On a final note, the speaker stressed this point: there is no such thing as public good or freedom of speech argument that would protect you in infringing on Intellectual Property rights.
The Media Junkie
This post is punctuated with original photographs of mine. I implore you to seek permission from me if you want to use any in your works. I intend to maintain this originality culture henceforth, and encourage you to join me.
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