Are you using your blog as a reminder? A storage place for thoughts and notes, often not of your own creation?
I’ve run across a lot of bloggers who start blogging by saving whole blog posts on their blog from other bloggers and websites. Some even explain this in their blog purpose right on their blog, such as:
The purpose of this blog is to help me remember things by storing notes and sites of interest to me.
There are two issues I want to address on this subject:
- How do you avoid copyright violations and still preserve online content.
- Is your blog about you or your readers?
Blog Storage and Notes: Avoiding Copyright Infringements
I understand the desire to want to take notes and preserve the wonderful bits and pieces of information and resources you find online. I do that daily. I even blog about the amazing online discoveries I’ve found.
However, copying an entire web page or blog post and pasting it on your blog is copying. Doing it in a way the makes it look like it’s yours, even inadvertently, is plagiarism. It’s against the law.
Many times I’ve confronted these copyright violators when they’ve taken my content, and I get excuses like:
- I really liked it and wanted to remember it.
- I needed it as a reference for the work I’m doing.
- I wanted to save it in case you changed your links or closed your blog.
- I liked it and I wanted to share it with others.
Sorry. While nice, none of those are good reasons.
Jonathan Bailey and I blog a lot about content theft, splogs, and scrapers, people and marketers who take content that doesn’t belong to them, without permission. That’s a nasty business industry at work abusing your blog and blog content.
I’m talking now about the saddest people we have to deal with who violate our copyrights. The ones who feel justified about taking the content. These are the ignorant and naive, and if the above justifications sound familiar, you might be one of them.
Assume everything on the web is copyrighted. This means you are not allowed to use the full content of anything on your blog. If you wish to, check their copyright policy and license and ask first.
Preserving Online Content and Blogging About It
You can still preserve online content for future personal reference, and you can also blog about it, recommending and sharing it with others, without breaking any rules or laws.
Here are some tips on “taking notes” of blog content so you can avoid the honor of receiving a cease and desist notification for copyright violation.
- Reference Fair Use: Copyright law permits Fair Use of content, using a small bit of relevant content without permission, with citations (links) to the original source. A growing standard for online content is 400 words or 10%, though each copyright owner can set their Fair Use criteria. This means you can reference only an excerpt section on your blog, with a link to the source, to help you remember the blog post and information within. It helps to add a reminder of why you wanted to save this link and information.
- Save the Page to Your Computer: In your browser menu, choose File > Save As to save the page to your computer’s hard drive. Put it in a place where you can find it, and you will have access to the information as long as you need it. By not publishing it, and keeping it for your personal use, you’ve not broken any rules.
- Use Furl: Furl is a form of bookmarking and online storage service. You can save blog posts for your personal and private usage and reference online. There are other similar services, but make sure the storage is not public, though links to the bookmarked original documents titles and excerpts maybe made public.
- Trust Google Cache: If you want, you can trust that Google has a stored cache file of the blog post you wish to preserve, so you can just publish the link on your blog, with or without an excerpt. If something happens to the post, you can search for the URL on Google and view the cached version.
- Print It: If you really want to save the blog post information, then print the web page and store it in a folder or notebook where you can refer to it any time, with or without Internet access. If it is that important to remember, then consider printing it out to preserve it.
Is Your Blog For You or Your Readers
A blog is not a notebook, though many use it accordingly. It can be a diary, a place to record your thoughts, feelings, life events, and even your notes. But when is your blog a placeholder for notes and when is yor blog for you and your readers?
If your blog is for you, and only a notebook for your life, thoughts, and research material, consider making your blog private. Turn it off from the rest of the world and make it your spot on the web for you, and just you.
If your blog is for your readers, and your purpose is to share with them your thoughts and experiences, and discoveries along the way, share with them both.
Share enough of your online discovery in a way that meets Fair Use, and points to the original source for your readers to enjoy. Tell them why you want to preserve and share this bit of information with them. Share your thoughts, feelings, and expertise on the subject to add even more value to your discovery.
A blog is about sharing. It is also about conversation. You start it, and invite others to participate, and maybe, your little notebook of preserved bits and pieces of online resources will turn into a community of like-folks interested in the same subject, helping each other learn more as they blog, read, and share.