1) Never copy the whole of anyone else’s material: whether it is a picture, an article or a layout. The more you copy, the less likely a court is to view your use as ‘fair’, even if you are doing it for criticism or review;
2) Don’t just copy someone else’s stuff, even if it is funny, cool or interesting, without having some new point or comment or criticism of your own. Copying because you like something is not fair use.
Copying because you want to comment or engage with something is more likely to be fair.
3) Try to be proportionate. Don’t copy the whole of someone else’s stuff if a shorter extract will do. Do the shorter extract and then link! The more you take, the more likely it is to be an infringement.
4) Acknowledge your sources if you do copy, and link to them. Some countries have things called ‘moral rights’ – rights to be attributed as an author of a work. Also, in some countries, if you are relying on a ‘fair use’ type defense, you will need to acknowledge the source, even if your purpose is criticism/review or reporting news. It is also more likely your act will be considered ‘fair’ if you identify your source.
5) A great resource on copyright in this environment generally is the material collected by Chilling Effects, a joint project of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Harvard, Stanford, Berkeley, University of San Francisco, University of Maine, and George Washington School of Law clinics. People who are both bloggers AND copyright owners should check out the general descriptions there. The FAQs that are really useful in terms.
Eugene just has one tip for potential copyright violators: 6) Don’t do it!
For copyright holders who find their work violated by a blogger, Kimberlee’s tips are as follows:
7) The main point here would be: Remember that it is always better to reach agreement. A polite request to remove material will often work wonders. Do this first. Remember that bloggers always have a right of textual reply, if they think they have been wronged.
8) If you encounter problems, some countries have notice and take down provisions: provisions that allow copyright owners to write to the host/ISP and have infringing material removed. Writing to the ISP/host is often a 2nd easy step towards having stuff removed.
9) Try to reach an assessment of whether use might be fair. Avoid the knee jerk reaction.
Euegene’s tips on this issue are:
10) Ask yourself whether it’s worth bothering about.
11) If it is, send an e-mail to the blogger pointing out that his actions are an infringement. Ask him/her to stop.
12) If he/she doesn’t stop, then ask yourself whether it’s worth the huge money and headache that would be involved in suing. The answer would almost always be “no.”
13) If the answer is “yes,” then hire a copyright lawyer (doesn’t much matter whether he’s skilled in cyberspace law; experience with copyright law in whatever medium is more important here).
And, a final copyright tip for bloggers from Kimberlee:
14) Don’t be overly scared by copyright. Most people do not experience copyright infringement allegations or problems, unless they are putting lots and lots of movies or MP3s on their website. Basic common sense will mostly be sufficient to avoid problems: Don’t copy too much and only copy where it is ‘fair’ – where you’re not competing with the owner’s market.