An interesting article by poet Wendy Cope entitled “You like my poems? So pay for them”, https://www.theguardian.com/books/2007/dec/08/featuresreviews.guardianreview14. In her article, Cope bemoans the tendency of people to copy and circulate poems that are in copyright without obtaining the permission of the poet in question.
Cope’s piece reminds me of an incident involving an acquaintance. The gentleman in question told me how much he had enjoyed reading one of my poems (on my website) and how it was now on his phone so he could refer to it more easily. On the one hand, I was flattered to hear that my work had brought so much pleasure to someone who I liked and respected. However, on the other I wished that my acquaintance had asked my permission or maybe even bought one of my books! Rather than embarking on a potentially embarrassing exchange, I smiled and said how delighted I was that my poem gave him so much pleasure.
Of course many of my poems are available online (on this website) and I have no issue with people using the reblog facility to share portions of them with their followers. Likewise I’m delighted when people share links to my work on Twitter and other social media. There is, however a difference between such sharing and copying whole poems without the poet’s permission. Many people copying and/or reproducing poems without permission mean no harm. It is none the less wrong for them to do so without the express permission of their creator.
I have always proceeded on the premise that re-blogs are a great way of demonstrating appreciation for the work of others, for what better means can there be of showing one’s approbation than sharing fellow blogger’s posts with your own followers. By so doing the person doing the re-blogging is enhancing the profile of a given post and the blogger who’s post they are sharing which can lead on to more likes, shares and follows on the originator’s site. I was therefore taken back when, following on from a re-blog by me of another’s post I received the following message both on my own site and via Twitter,
“Please make sure you are making it clear that this was written by another writer (me). Thanks. :)”.
My response was that:
1. I had no intention of passing off anyone else’s work as my own and
2. The re-blog clearly linked back to the originator’s site making it crystal clear that they (not me) wrote the article in question.
As a writer I do, of course understand the desire of others to protect their creations and it goes without saying that I would never in any manner whatsoever attempt to pass off work written by a person other than me as mine. Having said that, when one places sharing buttons such as Twitter and Facebook and, of course the re-blog facility on one’s WordPress site, you should not be surprised when people utilise these buttons to share your work with their fellow bloggers and the wider world. If an individual, for whatever reason doesn’t want their work to be shared via re-blogs, tweets etc they should not place sharing buttons on their site. Of course the removal of the ability to share would not prevent others from copying a link and linking back to a post which they find interesting.
In conclusion, one should (obviously) not pass off another’s work as one’s own. To do so is both ethically wrong and a breech of copyright law. However anyone who allows the placing of sharing options on their blog is inviting others to share content. A tweet or a re-blog of a portion of a post does not a breech of copyright make.
Despite being taken back by the response received to a recent re-blog, I will continue to share, via re-blogs and tweets posts that I find interesting. I am always grateful to my fellow bloggers when they share my work and I have no intention of ceasing to return the kindness.
This post (http://aopinionatedman.com/2015/12/09/copyright-online-theft-and-blogging/) prompted me to post a Copyright Notice (http://newauthoronline.com/copyright-notice/) on this site. I had fully intended to add such a notice for some considerable time. I had, however not got round to doing so until today.
Wordpress offers a re-blogging function, allowing the sharing of a small part of posts, with readers being directed to the original source. I welcome re-blogs and am grateful to everyone who takes the time to share my work in this way. Consequently the above Notice should not be taken as a prohibition on re-blogging. The Notice is intended to prevent the taking of content by a minority of individuals and the passing off of such content as their own work. I hope that the Notice will protect my work and that of those who have honoured me by guest posting on newauthoronline.com.
Occasionally I Google my books to see how they are ranking. Yesterday I was concerned to discover that my book, “Street Walker and Other Stories”, which should be available only in the Amazon Kindle store, can, apparently be downloaded from the following (non-Amazon) link, (http://www.ectechnano.com/street-walker-and-other-stories.html).
I didn’t provide Street Walker to ectechnano.com and have no idea how the site obtained my book. Having researched ectechnano.com it appears that it is considered to be a “high risk” site. I am not sure what action to take other than filing a DMCA Notice with ectechnano.com’s Internet Service Provider (I am reluctant to use the contact form displayed on ectechnano.com’s site). Fellow authors may wish to check whether their works can be found on this site.
All authors should copyright their work. A Copyright Notice acts as a deterrent to copyright infringement or, if infringement does occur makes it easier for the author to pursue the copyright infringer.
All of my books, together with the posts on this blog (newauthoronline.com) are copyright Kevin Morris).
When I first ventured into the world of publishing I was somewhat naive regarding protecting my work. I had, of course seen the copyright notices contained within commercially published books. However for some inexplicable reason it never crossed my mind that I should protect my own creations by employing the law of copyright.
Having recently read a number of posts regarding the theft of intellectual property I have determined to correct my omission by including a Copyright Notice with my current (and future) books. Thus far I have been lucky as no one has copied my work. However I and other writers can not work on the basis that everyone will play by the rules and respect our intellectual property, hence my decision.
The article on Chris The Story Reading Ape’s Blog brought to mind stories of more traditional book piracy. A Chinese acquaintance tells me that photocopies of (copyright) material is rife in China, (the below article being a case in point although, it should be noted that the piece pertains to Hong Kong, not mainland China. http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/article/1469753/school-busted-selling-cheap-copies-books). Some or other once remarked that “Immitation is the sincerest form of flattery”. However, as pointed out by the article on The Story Reading Ape’s Blog (see above) copyright theft is not a victimless crime, it entails the theft of another’s intellectual labours.
Yesterday I received an e-mail from Kindle Support informing me that my collection of short stories, The First Time did not comply with KDP Select’s terms and conditions. What on earth had I done to receive this missive? Had I slandered a prominent personage who was, even now instructing lawyers to sue me for every penny I haven’t got?! Maybe I had copied huge chunks of a fellow author’s work and he was out for my blood?! I am pleased to report that none of these breeches apply. It turns out that Amazon had found The First Time for sale from an outlet other than the Kindle store. In order to enrol one’s books in KDP Select you must ensure that they are exclusive to Amazon which, in this instance The First Time was not.
I can hear shouts of “you brought it on yourself. Why are you belly aching. It’s a fair cop guv. You should stop waffling on about the situation and remove The First Time from all outlets other than Amazon forthwith”. Would where it that simple! The First Time was published using the services of a self-publishing company who as part of their service enrolled my book with a variety of e-book distributors. However due to no sales resulting I asked the company to remove The First Time from all outlets other than Amazon. Once I received confirmation that this had been done I enrolled my book in KDP Select assuming that it was now exclusive to Amazon. As you know from the above dear reader this is not the case! I have written to the self-publishing company asking that they ensure The First Time is removed from the outlet which Amazon drew to my attention. I live in hope that it will be removed from sale ASAP thereby ensuring that The First Time remains enrolled in KDP Select.
The lesson I draw from the above is the importance of ensuring that authors keep control over their works. I am listed as the author of The First Time but not the publisher. In my case it is only the publisher who is able to remove books which has led to the problems outlined above. Dear fellow authors please, please read the small print prior to signing contracts.
If you purchase a physical copy of a book then the purchased copy becomes your property. You can lend or if you are so inclined destroy the book as it is yours to do with as you please provided that you do not copy or pass the work off as your own. The position as regards e-books is not so straightforward. On purchasing an e-book the buyer gains the right to access the content but not to lend or otherwise distribute it. I must confess to having been under the impression that the right to read my e-book library perishes when I draw my final breath. However according to an interesting article Amazon confirm that it is possible to leave your e-book library to your heir, http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/05/08/1205979/-e-books-who-owns-my-digital-library.
As an author and reader of e-books I believe that an electronic book should be viewed as the property of the purchaser provided that he or she does not pass the work off as their own or copy the book. To me it is fundamentally unfair to pay for a product only to be told that you do not, in fact own it. Consequently I am somewhat reassured by Amazon’s statement that e-books can be passed on to one’s heir. I guess the interesting question is what happens if Amazon goes out of business. Unlikely in the near future but stranger things have happened.