Can you copyright blog content?

Blog post

This sentence which pretty much says nothing other than me claiming that it was written by Jon on the Fat Stacks blog is protected by copyright.

Short answer: Yes, your blog content is protected by copyright as soon as you write it.  Same with photos you take and videos you make.

What steps did I take to copyright this blog post?

None. I didn’t have to register it anywhere.  I merely had to publish it.  That’s it.

Is every word protected by copyright?

No.  I use many words in my posts and on their own, they are not protected by copyright. I used the word “sentence”. That does not mean I have sole rights to the word “sentence.”

The copyright applies to original thought which boils down to a unique combination of words.

Can someone quote your blog without infringing copyright?

Yes, they can.  If someone quoted a sentence or even a few sentences of a blog post on Fat Stacks, they’re permitted to do that.  They should do that because there’s so much worth quoting.

In other words, another blogger or magazine publisher or anyone does not need your permission to quote portions of your blog.

How much can they quote and use?

There’s no formula for determining that.  The Fair Use doctrine is “any copying of copyrighted material done for a limited and “transformative” purpose, such as to comment upon, criticize, or parody…” [source: Stanford.edu].

As you can see, there’s no magic formula or word count or percentage of a work that falls under fair use.

Infringement isn’t usually the problem, detection and enforcement are

Like so many laws, the law itself isn’t the issue.  Enforcing is the problem.  A law is only as good as enforcement.  You might write brilliant work that someone may infringe by reproducing or overreaching Fair Use, but are you going to take the time to discover those infringers? Once you find them, are you going to take the time and spend the money to enforce it?

Most bloggers don’t, especially their written work.

Let’s face it, much of the Web is rewritten content.  If you find a blog that basically rewrote your articles, can you prove it?  Do you want to?  How much can you gain by doing it?

Going after image copyright infringement makes more sense because there’s software that does it.  Moreover, it’s easy to detect. It’s either the image or it’s not.  With copyright trolls on the prowl, enforcement is relatively easy.

The written word is more difficult to determine infringement unless it’s a blatant word-for-word replica.

Is it worth it?

For my blogs and niche sites, it’s not worth it.  I’m sure I have competitors who copied much of what I paid to have written.  It’s just not worth it for me to go after them.  I have a detection and enforcement problem.

That said, if you have a contained body of work that is lucrative such as a course or ebook, detection is easier and enforcement is both easier and more worthwhile.  It’s more worthwhile because it’s a lucrative body of work.

For example, I pay a service called Takedown Czar to look for and have removed copies or replicas of my Fat Stacks courses.  The constantly scour the web looking for sites selling knock-off versions for a fraction of what I charge.  I pay Takedown Czar $297 per month for this service.  It’s totally worth it.  If they save me one sale a month, that pays for their service.

TakedownCzar provides me detailed monthly reports setting out what they all did and if it’s true (I have no reason not to believe them), then they do a lot for that $297.

Let’s pivot here because maybe you’re not asking about copyrighting your blog but wish to trademark your blog name.  Can you trademark a blog name?

Short answer: Yes, you can trademark your blog’s name.

I have two trademarks in process right now.  One is for Fat Stacks just because I think it’s such a great blog title and that would be a great term to trademark.  The jury is out whether it’ll be granted.  I”m also in the process for trademarking one of my niche sites domain names.

IMO, if you have a high-value site it’s worth looking into trademarking your site names and it’s totally doable.  Note, however, not all blog names can be trademarked.  It’s a stringent process.  There’s a laundry list of parameters and laws surrounding trademarking as to whether a term or phrase can be trademarked.  It’s not a slam dunk.  It’s also possible the name you chose is trademarked already. Hopefully not, but it’s possible.

If you’re interested in learning about trademarking your blog, go straight to the horse’s mouth which is USPTO.gov.  Lots of great info there.

 

 

 

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