Fair Use and Original Thought


The other day I was surfing some blog and found a few new Documentum blogs. Several of them had good posts that I will be commenting upon in the future. One had several good posts, and some others that sounded familiar. Then I realized, I was reading my own posts!

For those that are unaware, there are several blogs out there that just re-post other people’s blog entries. These are bot-driven and usually include a link to the original post. They also typically only have a teaser posted. I ignore those because they don’t claim to have written the content and are fairly obvious.

In this case, however, it appears that the content was written by the owner of the blog. That is unethical, and I believe a violation of copyright laws. There was no link back to my blog or anything else that may indicate that it was not composed by the actual owner of the blog.

As a result, I’ve added the following to my About the Word page:

I reserve the rights to everything that I write on this blog. You can quote me all you like if you give me credit and don’t charge for it. If you are going charge someone to read my quote, get my permission first. I’m pretty agreeable and will probably just want to read what you wrote after publishing.

I think that is a pretty fair policy. I follow that policy in regards to other people’s blogs. I respect that they took the time to write something and that if I quote them, I need to not only acknowledge that it is a quote, but allow my readers to read the original in its full context.

As a personal policy, I try not to link to someone’s post unless I have something to contribute to the conversation. If something is extremely useful, I may link to it to allow other to learn. However, I don’t like just posting solitary links. Nothing wrong about it, just a behavioral preference.

As for the Offending Blog…

There are some posts that appear to be original on that blog. I may even link to one or two of those posts in a discussion that I was planning. This is all assuming that I can verify to my satisfaction that they wrote the actual posts that I reference and that credit is given where due on the posts presented.

I have contacted the blog owner and asked them to change their approach and give credit where it is due. I am going to allow them to make changes. If they don’t do so, I may share the site so that people know.

One question I am left wondering, how many other posts have been copied by that user? The answer is yes!

7 thoughts on “Fair Use and Original Thought

  1. Hi Pie,
    Thanks for bringing this to my notice, When you send me the link i thought its my own blog and how come my formatting has changed and later realized that it was a copycat. I mailed him yesterday itself and guess what today morning when i tried the same URL I got a 404 !!! 🙂

    Sorry for the one liner mail yesterday, I Didn’t realize that it was you. I have to admit that you are one among the few who inspired me to start blogging

    I am also adding copyright info to my blog.

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  2. Pie,
    Thank you for highlighting this. I am new to this sort of thing and I honestly never thought that copyright would have been necessary. Honor among thieves and all that.

    The quality of information and the dialog you generate has been a great help. keep up the good work and please continue to challenge originality. For myself, I’m at an age where I tend to forget where I first heard things and sometimes it’s good to be reminded to clearly cite sources even when the writing is fresh.

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  3. Considering the length, 300+ pages, and the fact that I’m not actually in the legal profession, I’ll stick with no. However, I was pretty sure my stuff was already protected as I stated early in the post (and I believe a violation of copyright laws.).

    After scanning the document, it doesn’t explicitly mention anything similar to blogs. My blog is not a literary work. Also, whether or not it is “fixed” is highly debatable.

    In fact, looking on the site you provided, it looks like my stuff is not copyrighted by default. The list of “fixed” formats leaves me in the dark. Check Circular 66.

    My policy has two purposes:

    1) To tell others that this stuff is protected.
    2) Let them know when it is okay for them to re-use it in a limited fashion without having to check with me.

    So “ab”, my question to you is, “Have YOU read the copyright laws?”

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