Today we are talking about Copyright. I know we talk about Copyright a lot – but it just seems like no one gets it. NO ONE. Not even presidential candidates. I had this post written up (starting with the Copyright image) but thought I would share this bit of news, so you guys know that EVERYONE struggles with copyright law. In the news, this week was a startling story that pertained oddly to my Blogging 101 planned post. Sen. Rand Paul, currently running for President of the United States is in trouble with Ray-Ban sunglasses. {source}

Rand Brand on Ray-Bans

Image from

Ray-Ban, like most companies, copyrights their product, specifically their Wayfarer sunglasses. But, for some reason, Rand Paul decided (or his genius campaign manager) to put his “Rand” logo on it and sell them on his website. Without getting permission from Ray-Ban. Not a good idea, Rand.  He could have worn them, he could have handed them out to his staffers as presents. But he had them up for sale on his website. Dumb. As a Libertarian, politically I would probably be behind the dude, but I give no credit to this dumb error of judgement. And it shows that even people with a Baylor/Duke education can still screw up copyright.

More importantly though was the comments that popped up when this news came up. Of course most were politically charged, since the 2016 campaign is going to be a bag of mess…but most comments thought that Ray-Ban was politically motivated and not just flexing their copyright muscle. That people had the right to “pop their logo” on anything they want and sell it. Obviously the unwashed masses have about as much copyright knowledge as the rest of us. Including Rand Paul’s campaign team.

So, here you go, Rand…next time you want to “pop” your logo on something, maybe think about copyright law.

Ten Tips on Copyright for Bloggers

Ten Tips on Copyright…

1. Fair Use

“Fair Use” is ONLY when you are commenting on a product. For example, the image of Rand Paul above. I am not saying that Rand Paul is behind and this article. I am commenting on his trouble with Ray-Ban, constituting my “fair use” of his image. If I were to put up a post that had him backing a product I was selling, then I would get in trouble for copyright. Putting a book cover on your site in regard to a book review is considered “fair use.”

2. No Profit From What is Not Yours

If you are making money off of something, even if that money is selling advertisements on your blog, you better make sure that you own copyrights or have permission for use. Be careful of how you are claiming “Fair use” if money becomes involved.

3. Credit the Source

Just because you “credit” the source does not mean you are within your rights to post it.

4. Copyright Notice

Copyright Laws state that you are not required to post a copyright notice to protect your things. So, if you don’t see a copyright notice, it’s still protected under copyright. EVERY published work, paper, digital – is automatically protected under copyright.

5. Cease and Desist

The moment a copyright holder asks you to remove their work, you are obligated to remove it. Even if you think that you are within rights to post it or use it. If you refuse to remove it they have the right to report you to your internet host, blog service provider or any affiliations you hold. Further action would be to file a lawsuit against you.

6. The Video

Videos. Just because it’s on YouTube or Vimeo does not mean it is legal. Clips of television shows or movies are never legal and will be removed when the studios find them and report them. They don’t aggressively police short clips, but music vids and unlicensed content can be considered copyright violations. Usually, it results in just a removal from YouTube. But, if you embed that video into your blog, once removed it will show a big black box of copyright violation instead of the vid. You don’t want that on your blog.

7. Creative Commons

Creative Commons can be confusing. But, it is a way for a content creator to share their work with you, but there might be some liabilities. It is a not a free for all most of the time. Sometimes they have restrictions on their uses. Read the fine print. Some require credit to the author, some require a notification and others throw it out there. It is YOUR job as the user to figure out what that usage is.

8. Changing Copyrighted Materials

Changing the copyrighted material by adding your logo, or something else to it does NOT make you the rightful owner. If I stole your bike and slapped MY sticker on it, does that make it rightfully mine? That’s my sticker. No. You are still a thief. Don’t grab a background image or someone’s button and put your own words on it and claim that is now YOURS. Get permission. This includes meme badges, and content that you purchased from a designer in the past.

9. Can’t Find the Copyright Holder

If you can’t find who the image belongs to, does not give you the right to use it. It is up to you as the user to track down the copyright holder.

10. Non-Commercial

Finally, if you are a “non-profit,” political candidate, or non-commercial entity, none of those reasons give you a right to use a copyrighted product or image without permission. Just because you are not profiting off of the product or image does not make you less liable. Sure, you might only get a “take-down” letter…but the copyright holder still has the right to pursue legal actions.