If you have a blog, whether you realize it or not, copyright is a subject that directly impacts your life.
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Not only are you constantly creating new copyrighted works while making your blog but, most likely, you are integrating other’s works into your site including your blogging application (IE: WordPress), your theme, images with your posts, quotes, etc.
However, there is a lot of confusion and misunderstanding on matters of copyright. Some of it is because the law is genuinely confusing, some of it is caused by misinformation that is being spread around the Web and much of it is the simple fact that most bloggers aren’t interested in these issues.
Unfortunately, those who are ignorant about the law often step into traps while wading through it and these pitfalls can both limit your rights to control your own work and cause you to be threatened or sued by others.
As a blogger, it is best to have at least some knowledge of copyright so you can protect yourself. With that in mind, here are five copyright facts every blogger should know.
1. If It’s Saved, It’s Copyrighted
There is no requirement to place a notice on your work for it to be considered copyrighted nor do you have to register your work with any third party. A creative work is considered copyrighted the moment it is “fixed in any tangible medium of expression“. Once you save your work to your hard drive (or server), doodle a sketch onto a napkin or put that painting on canvas, it is copyrighted.
Though you can’t copyright ideas, just their expression, and you do need to register your work with the U.S. Copyright Office if you are U.S. citizen and wish to be able to sue for copyright infringement and collect all potential damages. However, that has nothing to do with your rights in the work and your ability to demand removal of infringing copies.
On the counter side, unless you have some significant reason to believe otherwise, assume all works you encounter on the Web are copyrighted and threat them as such.
2. There is No Golden Rule for Fair Use
Though others like to talk about rules such as X number of words in a blog post or X number of seconds in a song, there is no magic “bright line” on matters of fair use.
In short, fair use is a defense against a copyright infringement lawsuit and it is determined on a case-by-case basis, not by any hard rules. Judges and juries weigh four factors when looking at fair use and those factors get weighed differently almost every time.
There are some uses that are clearly fair and others that are clearly not. In between there is a wide swatch of gray area that could, quite literally, go either way.
3. Attribution is No Substitute for Permission
Though attribution is a good thing to give, it doesn’t give a green light to use a work as you see fit.
Attributing a work simply prevents its use from being a plagiarism. However, plagiarism and copyright infringement are two separate ideas. Not all cases of plagiarism are infringements and not all infringements are plagiarism.
If you want to use someone’s work on your site, get permission to do so. You can do this either by asking the person directly or looking for works licensed under Creative Commons licenses and then completing the terms of the license.
Failure to get permission to use a work can result in a cease and desist letter, takedown notice being filed or, in extreme cases, a lawsuit. On the flip side, don’t assume just because others attribute your work that it isn’t infringing. If you don’t want your work used in that capacity, you have the right to stop it.
4. You Can’t Copyright Names or Ideas
Though you can copyright a wide variety of content including literary works, photographs, paintings, movies, sound recordings and even hull designs, you can not copyright a name or an idea.
Names fall under the realm of trademark law, which deals with names and marks used in business. Trademark is much more limited in scope of protection than copyright for many reasons but the crux of it is that it is designed to prevent confusion in the marketplace. Delta Airlines and Delta Faucets, for example, can have the same name because they are in two different markets.
Ideas fall under patent law. Patents must be applied for and approved through a lengthy and expensive process and not all ideas are patentable.
For more information on trademarks and patents, visit the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
5. Changing a Few Words Does Not Create a New Work
Finally, just because the copying isn’t verbatim does not mean that it isn’t an infringement. Copyright is not just a right to copy a work, but rather a set of exclusive rights including the right to make derivative works. A derivative work is a new work based upon the original and can include not only works with minor changes, such as moving a few words around, but also more substantial changes such as sequels and spin offs.
Though determining whether a work is a derivative work or not is a gray area problem similar to fair use, the test is whether an “ordinary observer” would notice that the new work is based on the original. Changing a few words or names around certainly fails that test.
Always remember that, just because a work is not identical to the original does not mean it is not an infringement.
This is, of course, just a basic overview of some of the most important pieces of information bloggers need to know when it comes to copyright. I tried to focus on areas where there is a lot of misunderstanding and misinformation but, clearly, there is a lot more ground to cover.
The bottom line though is that, if you are a blogger, you owe it to yourself to have an understanding of how copyright works both so you can enforce your rights and you can avoid troubles of your own down the road.
You don’t have to be an expert on copyright, but it helps to at least understand the basics and how it can affect you.
Who Do You Surround Yourself with in Your Blogger Network?
Some bloggers cannot see the forest for the trees, like the beautiful, lush, thriving national park I visited in New Jersey recently.
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The masses tend to be caught up in fear, pain and struggle because they cannot see the big picture.
Birds of a feather flock together.
You have heard that one, right?
I circle the globe and change time zones like most folks breathe. Would I be wise to surround myself with people who tremble at leaving their home town or home neighborhood? Nope. Such people would teach me the world makes for a scary, dangerous place. I would get advice like play it safe, be comfortable, get a job, buy a home and take it easy, from such folks. Such folks also live a bland life because if you rarely or never leave your comfort zone, you cannot:
- face your fears
- serve humanity
- be a bright light for people to follow
- live your deepest, wildest dreams
Obviously, I chose to surround myself with bloggers who happily circled the globe as successful bloggers. I also surrounded myself with happy, successful, home body bloggers too; to learn the basics of building a rocking blog effectively. I learned how to succeed from my blogger friend network, sponging up their knowledge, inspiration and insight.
Meanwhile, if you surround yourself with new, struggling or failing bloggers you will get advice on how to struggle, fail, or flounder through your blogging day.
Do bloggers around you complain about losing $50 on blogging? Lose these zero’s immediately and surround yourself with bloggers who invest thousands of dollars on their blogs. High rollers teach you to succeed. Broke jokes teach you how to fail.
Do bloggers around you see making $25 as being a huge amount of money? You better lose the low-aiming crowd to surround yourself with bloggers who see $1000 and $10,000 and more as making coin.
Do bloggers around you circle the globe as swash buckling travelers? Check out this photo from my trip to Vietnam. Kong: Skull Island was filmed here.
Time to ditch the comfort zone crowd to hang with adventurous types.
Don’t get me wrong; I celebrate every cent I make online. But if you think I’m placing a sponsored post for less than $1000, you are insane. Like a famous super model who said she didn’t get out of bed for anything less than $10,000 a day, you need to develop a prosperity consciousness that demands big money and ignores appearance of poverty, lack, limitation and fear.
Who Do You Hang With?
Who do you count as blogging buddies? Happy, highly successful, prospering bloggers? You better, to increase your success.
For example, observe my blogging paperback on profiting. The aftermarket price is $45 USD. If most or all bloggers in your network would feel uncomfortable receiving $45 in royalties for a paperback, you better lose that network and surround yourself with bloggers who believe in abundance. I know John Chow feels comfortable receiving $45 for anything he offers online. Who cares? It is just money. It is only money.
Surround yourself only with bloggers who:
- have posture
- have authority
- charge top dollar
- profit freely
- prosper freely
- exude confidence
- have a highly developed prosperity consciousness
You learn from the best, gain inspiration from the best and become the best by surrounding yourself with the best bloggers on earth.
But you need to be honest in who you choose to hang with in your blogging circles. Be clear. Be truthful with yourself. Maybe you feel comfortable trading comments with struggling bloggers you befriended 10 years ago but nothing spectacular happens for you if you surround yourself with struggling bloggers, being firmly fixed in your comfort zone.
Release all bloggers who are not happy and prospering.
Fill your blogger friend network with empowered, inspired, happy, successful, prospering bloggers.
Just your blogging success at stake.
Are You Chasing the Flavor of the Month?
My first fundamental of successful blogging focuses you on being present.
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All of our power resides in the moment.
None of our power resides in the future or past because neither exists.
Time is illusion.
Only Now is real.
Look at that brilliant featured image. I snapped it from the front porch during our trip to Fiji. Sweet things happen when you are in the moment, focusing all power on the present.
This marks my 796th blog post on Blogging Tips. I feel grateful to Zac for the opportunity to serve you. Plus I feel grateful for all success that flowed to me through these guest posts.
How in the heck did I write and publish nearly 800 guest posts on one blog?
I am in the moment, mostly. I am present. Plus I never, never, ever chase the flavor of the month.
Bruce Lee and Blogging
Being patient, persistent and present helps you tap into immense powers, including the power of being creative *and* prolific. See my 800 blog posts on Blogging Tips as evidence of such power. Toss in my 2,008 articles (between posts and pages) on Blogging From Paradise and you understand: focusing on one core task, or core purpose, in the present, leads to amazing things.
Bruce Lee spoke of fearing not the man who practiced 10,000 kicks once, but he did fear the man who practiced one kick 10,000 times. He embodied this mindset in his genius, Renaissance Man type ways.
Lee’s wisdom and physical prowess are both timeless because he understood and lived this great truth: do 1 thing so frequently, with a focused energy, being in the moment, that you do it incredibly well. He understood the truth of how I live my life: where your attention and energy goes, grows.
The Flavor of the Month
Most bloggers struggle because they practice 10,000 kicks once, chasing hot niches, running after trends, and choosing to blog today, and podcast tomorrow, because everybody runs a podcast these days. Wait a second; live video reigns supreme? Time to become a live video expert. Meanwhile, as you jump from niche to niche, and from blogging to podcasting to live videos, I just wrote and published 800 posts on Blogging Tips alone. Plus I wrote and published 1,000 more guest posts on other blogs.
While most bloggers chase hot trends, profitable niches and the latest game changing opportunity, guys like Alonzo and I thrive by doing one thing alone so we do it incredibly well.
Success is yours, but success is not an overnight or week-long endeavor.
Stop chasing hot niches. Visualize your dreams in detail. Focus on your blogging wins. Invest in coaching and courses from top bloggers. Surround yourself with positive vibes and positive people.
Write, publish and connect with top bloggers by helping top bloggers.
Success Finds Specialists
I took a nap this afternoon. A calm, peaceful breeze kisses my face right now as I write and enjoy the day.
Imagine if you could work from home every day? Visualize that fun and freedom.
Specialists are the only folks who work from home full time. People who do 1 thing persistently, practicing this skill, so they become super skilled in a single, specialized niche.
I gave all of my professional energy to being a blogger for the past 10 years. I became really skilled at blogging because I never chased the flavor of the month.
Avoid program hopping, niche hopping and all forms of flavor-chasing.
Do one thing. Do it well.
What Is the Incredibly Easiest Way to Drive Blog Traffic?
Drive traffic to other blogs.
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Give what you want.
Help people get what they want and people help you get what you want.
I have found this to be the easiest way to drive traffic to my blog because friends I made through cross-promotion promote me around the clock, 24-7, 365. Easy peasy.
I checked my Twitter a few moments ago. During the past 3 hours I noticed 11 mentions, engagements and retweets collectively. 3 hours, 11 engagements, more blog traffic.
I drive a heavy amount of traffic to my blog by driving a heavy amount of traffic to fellow bloggers who drive a heavy amount of traffic to Blogging From Paradise every day, all day long.
The more you give, the more you get.
The hardest way to drive blog traffic is to try to do it solo. Imagine publishing one post and hitting social share buttons. Even if I do a fine job writing the post, gaining traction solo is tough because successful bloggers know: 1000 is better than 1. 1000 blogging buddies promoting you 24-7, 365 beats you promoting yourself or you trying to write and publish 5 to 10 or more posts daily.
I used to publish 60 posts daily between 2 blogs. Short videos and short posts created the bulk of the content. I had a difficult time succeeding because you can only do so much solo. I published 60 posts in a cyber cave. Nobody listened to me because I did not listen to anybody. But making friends by driving traffic to other blogs made blogging easier and easier for me.
My blogging buddies – who appreciate me promoting them – freely:
- link to me on their blogs
- retweet my posts
- share my posts on Facebook
- share my posts on LinkedIn
- send my blog posts to their email list
That my friends is a lot of traffic flowing to my blog easily, freely and exponentially.
Every time a blogging buddy promotes you to their tribe you gain exposure to one more large, targeted audience. Imagine when you gain exposure in front of 10, 50, 100 and 1,000 or more audiences daily? This is serious traffic! Plus it is easy traffic because your prime duties of reading posts and tapping social share buttons, or, linking to fellow bloggers on your blog, are quite easy.
How to Drive Traffic to other Blogs
I spent a fair chunk of today driving traffic to other blogs.
I promoted some of my blog posts linking to my blogging buddies. I also retweeted and Facebook shared posts from other bloggers.
Each share lays the foundation for new blogging friendships and fortifies old blogging friendships. Every time I promote Donna Merrill or Alonzo Pichardo, we bond more deeply. Easy way to keep friendships strong and to grow your blog traffic exponentially.
You Will Run out of Time Solo But You Never Run out of Friends
Eventually, I ran out of time each day trying to do it all by myself. No human is super human. No human can be in a billion places at once, by their own steam.
But you never run out of friends if you are generous. During a reasonable lifetime, no blogger will befriend all 7 billion humans. You will however keep meeting friends every day if you drive traffic to other blogs every day.
As more folks befriend you, more folks promote you. What an easy way to increase traffic to your blog. Your ever expanding friend network does much of the legwork for you and also drives traffic to your blog:
- when you sleep
- when you travel
- when you spend time offline with family and friends
Sounds sweet, right?
Drive traffic to your blog easily.
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