As I have been thinking up blog posts to come, I have found myself thinking about copyright laws as well. As part of my studies for my bachelor’s degree (media producing) I spent many rather tedious hours studying copyright laws as taught by a lawyer who was anything but an engaging teacher. I hated it and I thought the laws were pretty ridiculous. Now, as time has passed since those studies and I’ve seen many copyright arguments pop to the surface I find myself very wary of what I can post in my blog and what not. The odds of someone sueing me are quite slim, but considering that I’m not made of money, I don’t want to take my chances.
I recently took some time to brush up on the general ideas of the copyright laws, to freshen up my memory and to see how today’s social media fits into it all. For instance, I absolutely love Pinterest, though I realize that technically, if you dig a little, even pinning or repinning something likely violates copyright laws. I believe that Pinterest is still responsible for what goes on in it and that it is their job to monitor who’s pinning what and where from and to deal with the legal matters that may rise – after all, they are providing the service. However, if someone is really mad about their photo/painting/chart/whatever being pinned or repinned, yeah, I’m sure they can aim their anger at you just as well.
In the case of Pinterest, I do find the thought of someone getting upset over copyrights being rather ridiculous. In Pinterest, everything is pinned due to an inspiration provided by the original piece, whatever it may be. If your work is inspiring someone, isn’t that the greatest compliment you can get? I wouldn’t mind at all if someone were to pin a picture I’ve taken, and I most certainly would encourage it, but I admit, I would like to see my name mentioned in the credits (or my blog’s name).
In general, my view on copyrighted images (whatever kind they may be) is that I would personally be happy, if someone took a photo/painting/etc that I was the original artist on and shared it somewhere with credits given to me. If someone took it and claimed it as theirs, I would hunt them down. If someone took it and didn’t mention me in any way, I would be somewhat sad and upset, but I would live with it – especially if it’s linked to me somehow. In terms of music I find the laws to be more tricky and I don’t wish to go into it when it’s not really relevant for my blog. As far as I know, it’s perfectly fine to share with people the songs you’ve listened to on Spotify, since many things can be listened for free online anyway.
In addition to Pinterest, there’s Polyvore. A website loved by many bloggers, including myself. It’s such a handy tool to make collages of just about everything – yet at the same time, you’re once again using copyrighted material since you are using photos from websites, ad campaigns and magazines, etc. Who is the one responsible here? The person who clipped the images from the web to begin with – or the person using them to make their collage? I guess both are guilty. However, I am willing to bet that many companies benefit from Polyvore and people clipping images and then sharing the collages with others. It’s basically free advertizing for you and who in their right mind would turn down that? If I clip your eyeshadow palette and express how I really really really want it and the image links to your site… how is that bad for anyone?
You do have to think about the original artist though, a photographer, for example. Yet, when you photograph products for an online catalog, you are photographing something someone else already made. Complicated, huh? The photographer likely got well paid for his/her work though and he/she got the luxury of their work being featured somewhere, which, I think, is very important to most photographers (it would be for me). If you clip this image and use it in a collage, it’s not really promoting the original artist’s work though, is it? It is simply an inspiration offering inspiration to others. But at the same time, does the artist need promoting for a picture of a pair of jeans? I wouldn’t know.
Anyway, the whole point of this rant is that it’s hard to be a blogger without in one way or another violating copyright laws. Heck, it’s hard to even just be a creative and inspired individual without doing so! I would definitely like to ask for artists/authors to collaborate with bloggers (and people in general) a bit more and simply allow limited use of their work when given the appropriate credit for it. And I’m not saying that everyone should be allowed to benefit financially for the hard work done by others, but I think promoting and sharing beauty, inspiration and clever ideas should be allowed.
Have you knowingly or unknowingly broken copyright laws? Do you find them difficult to go by?