Blogs and copyright - what you need to know

As a blogger there are steps you must take to ensure you are not infringing on the copyright protections of other people’s work. Content that is published online is no different when it comes to copyright protections that those that apply offline.

We’ve quickly got on to the first thing you need to know. Copyright is assigned to all online content upon creation, whether a copyright symbol or notice is displayed or not.

So, let’s take a look at three key areas where you need to follow the rules to make sure you are not infringing on the rights afforded to other people’s work – written or visual. These are: the ‘fair use’ of materials, using quotations and images.

What does fair use mean?

The British Library provides a really helpful explanation of fair use. It explains that:

“under UK copyright law, fair use allows for the lawful use or reproduction of work without having to see seek permission from the creators or copyright owners”.

Can I use quotations?

You will want to include quotes in your post which add colour, illustrate a point, or introduce a counter argument.  The Society of Authors advises that you can quote without permission if these five things apply:

  • the work is already published
  • you properly acknowledge the original source
  • the use is fair dealing
  • the use is no more than is required by the specific purpose in which you use it
  • the use is genuinely for the purpose of quotation

What images can I use?

Images add the visual spice to a post. They create visual interest in a sea of words. They act as sea wall to break text into digestible chunks. They help readers to visualise what you’re writing about. They are important for boosting SEO too.

There are essentially two types of image sources you can use to make sure you’re not getting into legal hot water.

  • Royalty-free stock photos – these are photos you can buy from stock image sites like Shutterstock or Dreamstime.  You don’t need to acknowledge the creator.  You can buy a single photo, or subscribe to a monthly package.
  • Free stock images – there are lots of sites likes Pexels and Pixabay that provide free images for you to use.  Each site will have its own guidelines on etiquette and whether you should add a source credit to your image.

Can I embed an infographic in my post?

The answer is yes. You can use infographics created by third parties in your post. The right thing to do is to link to the source and add a courtesy line about the original creator

These are just some of the basics you need to know when writing your blog posts. Check out our post Online Copyright Law – the Complete Guide for more detailed information.