Copyrights – if you aren’t familiar it’s time you are. There’s a great deal of talk about copyright but unfortunately, there is still huge problems online with copyright infringement. Good writers don’t steal other peoples work, and they don’t borrow parts of it, and they don’t just reword it.
Many writers are not familiar with the definition of ‘copyright,’ and the laws that are associated with it, so let’s start there. Copyright gives artists and authors the legal rights to the work they create. For example, let’s say you write an article on “How to be a Good Writer.” The content in that article is copyrighted to you and no one else has the right to use it in any form without your permission.
Copyright applies to music, photographs, software, dance, architecture, pantomime, words, etc. As long as it is recorded in some form – disc, tape, film, paper, etc. it is protected under copyright law. If you live in Canada, USA, UK, Australia, or any other countries with copyright laws to protect original materials, then your writing is protected back to your earliest days. Of course, the onus is always on you to prove that you wrote something and that the copyright actually belongs to you.
In the USA, copyright law protects back 100-years. For this article, we will focus on copyright as it pertains to the Internet. When you write something and publish it online, you are protected by copyright law. A common misunderstanding is that you must register your writing with the US Copyright Office to have copyright protection. This is not true. You do not even have to mark your work with the copyright information but it is recommended you do so to keep things clear. Just add the Copyright (c) [Insert Name] [Insert Year], and your material is copyright protected.
Just as you do not want anyone stealing what you have written, as a writer you must also make sure you are not stealing the works of another writer. It seems, a common practice online is to simply take the work of another writer and reword it, and while that might not squeak by as not infringing on copyright, professional writers have no need to just re-work someone else’s work. Professional writers will use other materials to research and learn about what they are going to write on, and then write from scratch. If you want to be a good writer then make sure you are not infringing on the copyrights of others.