Tag Archives: Blogs

A FEW WORDS ABOUT FAIR USE AND COPYRIGHT


I see lots of folks nowadays with little disclaimers on their blogs and websites to the effect that copyrighted images and prose that they have posted are under the “fair use” doctrine or for educational purposes or personal use only. Apparently they’re under the impression that by doing so they are somehow protected from problems with copyright violations.

That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Fair use is a defense only after you have been sued!  That means after you have retained a lawyer and spent a pile of money.  Even then you may lose your case and end up paying penalties.

Furthermore, big syndication companies like Getty Images have people who prowl the Web looking for violations.  Their corporate lawyers then send you a letter to the effect that you either license the image (for fees in the low to mid-four figures) or they’ll take you to court.  And they will.  Either way, it’s going to cost you a couple of thousand dollars, and you can still end up with the penalties.

The fact that these people are actively seeking out violations (Getty makes millions a year from this, and no doubt so do their peers) makes this a bit more serious than just the chance of someone seeing that you’ve used their image and asking you to stop.  Add to this the fact that you don’t know if an image listed on — say — Flickr as available under Creative Commons is, in fact, original and you’ve got a case of your butt hanging out in the breeze.  If you got them off Google Images, the chances are excellent that they’re not public domain unless they were published a hundred years ago.

You can’t even trust images from Federal government sites, because if they were taken by an employee while off duty, the employee retains the rights, not the USG.  If they were taken in the performance of official duties, then you’re home free — but how do you know?  Answer: You don’t.

State governments and agencies retain copyrights, and you have no protection legally.  Although the likelihood of a state deciding to sue is small, remember that state budgets everywhere are in a crunch.  It could happen.

Remember, this is worth a lot of money to the companies involved.  You are not safe because you’re just a little guy.

The same things are true, to a lesser degree, about written material.  And it’s a lot easier to track down than images.

The company I write for paid for experts to research this.  You’re getting the information for free.  What you do with it is your business.

Write Less, Say More: The Power of Brevity


Although this article aims at cover letters for resumes, all writers can read it with profit.

When it comes to great writing, less is more. But even if you’re familiar with the mantra to “omit needless words,” tightening your writing is harder than it looks….

http://lifehacker.com/5909543/write-less-say-more-the-power-of-brevity

Why haven’t I been answering your email? Here’s why.


A family member wondered why I’d been absent from the email scene for a couple of days.  My answer:

Basically, I’ve been ignoring email as much as possible, and deleting a lot of the rest.  I need a break.  I’m tired of spending hours a day futzing around with junk mail and vetting links and articles that I really have no interest in, because people with whom I have little in common think it amounts to “staying in touch” in lieu of actually communicating.

Another problem is collective mailing lists.  Hit a button and bother ALL your contacts, not just a chosen few.  I’ve never done shotgun mailings except for necessary family announcements, and it pisses me off.

If I sound grumpy, it’s because I am.  I’m sick of having electronics and people who misuse them intruding in my life, and I’m seriously considering reading personal mail only, and ignoring all links, videos, cute cats and other glurge. I make a good part of my living in front of a computer, spend hours at it, and I’m less and less interested in screwing around with them when I don’t really have to.

The email is one major reason I no longer consider it fun.  It’s really too bad the things don’t cost 43 cents apiece the way snail mail does; it might slow people down a bit.  It’s just too damn easy to paste something and hit “enter” without any conscious thought, or any consideration for the people who have to wade through it.

So if you have something to tell me, please feel free. I am not, however, interested in your political views, your religious ideas disguised as photographic displays, or other mindless forwarding of useless crap. If you want to interact, I’ll join in. If your best efforts are going to waste my time, fahgeddaboudit!

There.  I said it, and I’m glad.  If you agree, send this around to all your friends. Just don’t put my name on it.