Copyright Law and Blogs


In a follow-up comment to my post on Fair Use and Original Thought, an anonymous poster helpfully provided a link to the full copyright laws. They are quite long. After a little research on the U.S. Copyright Office website, I came up with Circular 66 on Copyright Registration for Online Works. Favorite tidbits:

“Many works transmitted online, such as websites, are revised or updated frequently. Generally, copyrightable revisions to online works that are published on separate days must each be registered individually, with a separate application and filing fee”

-and-

“Copyright protects original authorship fixed in tangible form (17 USC sec. 102(a)).”

So my take-away is that, by default, bloggers are not covered as it is never “fixed”. You can register your blog/website, I think as describe in Circular 62, but I would check with the Copyright Office Public Information Office. There is a special registration for “dailies” (Circular 62a), but I’m not good enough to be sure about posting at least 2 posts a week. I can see that I have failed to post at least 8 times a month in two of the last six months. There is also the issue of many blogs not being a “Collective Work”, which I think would rule either of those alternatives invalid.

If you are a lawyer and can cite a precedent that says that my blog is covered, please let me know. I’ll share whatever I can validate with everyone.

What About Creative Commons?

I think the Creative Commons FAQ has the best statement:

“Applying a Creative Commons license to your work does not give you the same, similar or alternate protection to registering your copyright. Creative Commons licenses apply in addition to and on top of an existing copyright.”

So I am probably not protected at all. I’m keeping the Creative Commons license that I chose and mentioned previously. It shows my intent.

Without registration, my legal recourse is, at best, limited here in the United States. As I would have to pay a fee every time I register my new material, I don’t think that is going to happen. I don’t make money on this, so it is of debateable worth.

I’ll just have to resort to calling violators out and hope that the energy of the blogsphere will focus on helping each other out on this front.