Tuesday 20 January 2015

Blogging 101 - Copyright issues for bloggers

In a recent twitter conversation with Elizabeth Lhuede from the Australian Women Writers challenge, the issue of copyright law came up.

We both thought that bloggers were probably subject to the 10% rule that applies to research & education papers when quoting authors or their work. But we had doubts. So I decided to do my own research to find out for sure.

The Arts Law Centre of Australia has an Information sheet (link here) that covers many of the basic issues & questions.

First up, copyright law in Australia is automatic for all creative, literary & dramatic works, published and unpublished, including blogs.

The copyright protection is usually effective for the lifetime of the author/creator plus 70 years.

Secondly, there are 'fair dealing exceptions'.

So what does this mean for Australian bloggers ?

According to copyright law, the keys words are 'substantial part' and 'fair dealing'.

You can use an insubstantial part of a copyright work without seeking permission. The hard part is determining what is substantial!
It has almost nothing to do with the 10% rule (myth #1 busted!) The 10% rule only applies to 'fair dealings' for the purpose of research and study.
Quality not quantity is the determining factor in most cases.

The Australian 'fair dealing' rule is much tighter than the US 'fair use' rule.
It covers research and study, critcism and review, parody and satire, reporting the news and offering legal advice.

Fair dealing is more likely to affect commercial use, but non-commercial use is not automatically exempt.
Blogs which have advertising or some other money making feature are more likely to need copyright permissions under this definition of fair dealing.

Most book blogs would probably fall into the 'critcism and review' fair dealing category.
Key words (from the copyright act) that indicate a review or criticism are - passes judgement, genuine, strongly expressed or humorous, does not have to be balanced!

But it does have to be 'fair'.
A court would look at how much was reproduced, any adverse affects on the author, motives of the blogger and how the market for the product has been affected.

So now you know!

Most of my information came from the Queensland University of Technology: Faculty of Law - Blog, Podcast, Vodcast and Wiki Copyright Guide for Australia (available here).

For information about how to get permission for copyrighted works you can also check out the Australian Copyright Council.

Lorraine @Not Quite Nigella writes a food blog.
Last year Jessica wrote this informative piece for Lorraine about blogging & copyright for anyone interested in what happens when someone copies your blog or your work.

The main thing for bloggers to remember is to always identify, credit or acknowledge quotes & pictures because it's the right & moral thing to do. If in doubt, ask permission or don't use it.
'Fair dealing' has lots of shades of grey. But this works both ways.

Treat other people's creative work as you would like others to treat your blog and you'll be off to a fine start.

1 comment:

  1. Great post and thanks for all the links. I sometimes include fav quotes from a book in my review, but always indicate it as a quote with italics and punctuation, including the page number. I've always assumed this is okay, as in the majority of cases I'm including my fav quotes from the book, which - hopefully - entices readers to pick up the book.

    Occasionally I'll quote a line in the same way to demonstrate a point I'm making about the writing style/content that is unfavourable, but in my own opinion the quote is demonstrating my point and thereby giving my review more balance.

    Great topic.


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