Disclaimer: I am forced to write this post as there are various leading newspapers and magazines which are publishing blog posts without taking prior permission of the original author. Read on if you want to know about copyright laws and/or have been the victim of copyright violation, or come back to read when you become one!
Every now and then I keep reading about how blog posts are being used by leading newspapers and magazines as a part of their regular content. Irony is that these newspapers and magazines do not even bother to take a prior written (or even oral) permission from the authors of the original content. Posts are getting edited, tweaked and published shamelessly!
Around a year back, when I was as lousy a blogger as I am now, my posts were copied too verbatim by a site twice. They didn't even give a linkback. They simply mentioned my name as the author. No blog link anywhere, nothing. I sent them a mail informing them that I would take a legal action against them for publishing my posts without taking my permission. They immediately removed my posts and promised me that they would never publish my worthless content ever! Ah, what a loss for me!
I lost an amazing opportunity to be a famous lousy blogger, but I know a few amazing bloggers whose posts were copied recently. These magazines and newspapers are respected and reputed names. When a newspaper recently copied a blogger's blog post, upon asking the newspaper editor said that they gave proper credit to the blogger. The blogger's permission was not obtained before publishing the post. Further, it was edited too. The matter will be resolved soon, but the way it was treated on social sites like twitter was very disappointing. A few replies were rude and vague.
I have a very simple question: For how long these newspapers and magazines are going to take blogs and blog posts lightly? We write posts for ourselves. When we see other media channels making money and gaining readership by using our content without even taking our prior permission, it violates our copyrights that we have on the content.
For any medium that wants to use any content of any person, first that medium has to take a prior written permission from the author. Upon the terms and conditions agreed upon by the author and the printing medium; due credit, publishing and re-publishing of the content, number of times the content to be re-published, period over which it can be re-published and such various terms are decided.
In India, when a literary, artistic or dramatic content is copied without prior permission, or plagiarised by someone; it is protected under Indian copyright act. Further, Information Technology Act 2000 has certain provisions too for the protection of original content especially softwares.
When a person whose content is copied without his/her permission, it is called as Infringement. There are certain acts which do not amount to Infringement. (Kindly click on the links I have provided. They are useful for you as they give you an insight of the laws relating to copyright to protect your original content). As per the Indian Copyright Act, when a person violates your Copyright, he is punishable with an imprisonment of minimum 6 months, but which may extend to three years; and a fine of minimum of 50,000 which may extend to 2,00,000 or both. There are various punishments for various kinds of Infringement, which can be found in the Indian copyright Act. You can contact me too if you want to know about a specific infringement punishment.
It is a serious offense to copy someone's original content. These days, the leading newspapers and magazines are publishing original content of bloggers without their prior permission. Isn't it sad? Our blogs are protected under Creative Commons License. This license does not give permission to non-owner to copy the content of the blog without blog owner's permission. Still, these newspapers and magazines shamelessly steal content from blogs so that they don't have to pay any money to the writers for such articles. Further, they say that they are a huge platform and they are obliging bloggers by publishing their posts and giving them due credit. This, according to them is much more than the monetary compensation. For such a feature, they don't even find it needful to take the permission of that blogger. And a few fools like me still swear by ethics!
There is a difference between Plagiarism and Copyright violation. When someone uses your original content unde his/her name and claiming it to be his/her original content, it is called as plagiarism. While copyright violation is when someone uses your original content, publishes or re-publishes it without your prior consent, it amounts to copyright violation.
Yes, I am angry. And I have written this post so that in future when famous brands copy your content without taking your permission or without giving due credit, you can refer to this post to know whether or not they have violated your copyright. You can even contact me in this matter as I have done my masters in Law in Intellectual Property Laws. I have written a thesis of 200 pages on Infringement. Whoever is interested, I can mail them a copy for their reference. Mind you, that theses is my copyright, so dare you borrow it to copy and publish it in your "famous" newspaper!