(Astroblogging) Nothing frustrates a writer more than when someone lifts their work and uses it without permission. The thief may publish the article under his or her own name. Online writers face special challenges because their work is easily copied into someone else’s blog or forum.
This is what one blogging friend found when she traced her work published in its entirety on another site. Appeals to the site admin was met with resistance, denial and even a claim that anything published on the site was protected under the site’s own copyright. What a nightmare!
While imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, in the writing world is also actionable. Few us though have the time and resources to slog things out in court, there are things to do to protect your work.
Experts recommend, of course, that you register your copyright with the U. S. Copyright Office, though registering a blog, which is ongoing collection of material, is problematic. However, just the act of publishing a blog piece with a date and an author name establishes your ownership of the material. As long as your original work predates any subsequent publication of the material the blog itself proves your ownership.
Additional and less expensive ways to protect your material:
1.) Understand what constitutes copyright and copyright infringement. The use of a passage may be considered fair use and not actionable. Printing an entire work without permission certainly is.
2.) Check Copyscape, an online tool that checks and compares other online works to yours, will pull up for free ten searches each search. If you want more, then of course you have to pay at 5 cents per pop. Copyscape provides a nice little badge with warns people not to copy your work. This may or may not be as effective as a “Beware of Dog” sign, but at least you provided a clue on how seriously you take copying of your work.
3.) Write a nice letter to the admin of the site or forum explaining that your work was used without your permission and what you would like them to do to address the issue. In the past I’ve laid out to certain people that a paragraph and a link to the rest of material is OK, wholesale copying of the work is not. State what will happen if the material is not removed. Most reasonable people comply.
4.) If this doesn’t work than then next may. Write to domain server explaining that you found a terms-of-service violation in one of their hosted sites. If you don’t know the domain server you can find this information in the Who Is? Database, which can be accessed through your own domain registrar. Go Daddy for instance will allow you to look at the Who Is? Database list of the owner of the domain name. In the list you will domain server name. Most of the time, writing to the host will solve your problem, as they certainly don’t want a legal fight on their hands.
What are your experiences with people who have used your work without permission?
Beth Turnage authors Astrology Explored as well as being publisher of Astrology Media Press. Beth is available for private consultations. You can contact Beth at firstname.lastname@example.org.