There was a time when the Internet was like the Wild West. Now that it has grown out of the infancy stage, the Internet — and your blog — are subject to copyright laws, just like any other media.
To stay clear of problems, use these tips:
- Never pass off content as your own if it doesn’t belong to you. Content marketing rests upon your reputation, and you could get into serious trouble by building your authority on the shoulders of someone else’s reputation. You should value the “currency” of your reputation, and only take credit for content that you produce.
- Use links the right way. If you need to use content you haven’t produced, give credit where credit is due. Deep links are valuable, and the law does not prohibit deep linking to someone else’s blog or website; however, if you don’t give credit to that owner, you are violating the law.
- Graphics are not exempt. It’s generally appealing — and valuable — to add graphics to your blog; however, graphics also fall under copyright laws. The best way to avoid problems is to ask permission before using graphics or source them from free sites like Flickr or low-cost sites like istockphoto.
- Ask. If you want to use someone else’s content, just ask — nicely. Most bloggers, writers and businesses will generally allow a link to their content; after all, a deep link will benefit them. Requesting permission fully protects you from copyright infringement, and it’s the best practice for giving sources credit.
- Use the right sources. If you need to access truly free information for your blog, make sure it’s sourced from a service that provides free content. Several Internet ventures have joined forces to do just that: Through “creative commons,” sites such as Picasa, Scribd and Wikemedia Common allow free use of their materials, without citing.
Your blog is an ideal format to generate free information for your customers, increasing your authority, furthering your brand and generating leads. But what once was a free for all is now just as regulated by copyright laws as any other form of media and print materials.
Copyright image via Shutterstock.