Does Saying So Make It So? Copyrighting Blog Posts

Read an interview with someone somewhere – here is the kicker at the end:

© Eileen A. Joy and Figure/Ground Communication. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Awesome, right. The only problem is that, it appears, that the author simply threw this at the bottom of the text as if the magic formula works in and of itself. Well, I don’t think it does. I believe you have to register your blog post with the Copyright Office and pay a fee. Copyright Act was written and passed before blogs, so it is an interesting and tricky question. You certainly cannot just claim you have the copyright to stuff, can you?

I am quite certain that the brain behind Figure/Ground – Laureano Ralon – who at one point hilariously listed all the schools he has been accepted to and uploaded the acceptance letters to his then individual blog, did not in fact do any copyrighting. And this is just for show – look, we are a real publication with copyright claims!

(Actually a couple of letters are still linked to in his biowho does that?)

The easiest way to test my theory that Figure/Ground did not in fact register their blog (or individual blog posts) with Copyright Office and are therefore claiming copyright where none exists (blogs are not considered “published materials”), thus violating the law they claim is on their side, would be to republish their interview (or interviews) and wait for a “cease and desist” letter. But I am too lazy to do so.

© The Mind of Mikhail Emelianov. Unauthorized use without express and written permission is strictly prohibited. 

PS. The Figure/Ground blog has a Creative Commons logo:

You are free: to copy, distribute, display, and perform the work.


7 thoughts on “Does Saying So Make It So? Copyrighting Blog Posts

  1. Of course you can’t just claim it, but I’m pretty sure CC is enough for copyright. Enforcing it is another issue. Its the same with Copryright Office patents on foreign grounds, its limited to U.S. that can only force other countries to follow it by the threat of embargo or whatever. In Yougoslavia for example nobody cared about copright, they published translated books without consulting either authors or publishers.

  2. Well, Canadian Creative Commons, cited on the above-mentioned blog, allows for copying, distribution and use without express consent or permission as long as the original author is mentioned. So clearly it’s illegal to claim copyright and forbid use when it is clearly not forbidden.

  3. Point well taken, folks. I’ll ask our webmaster to remove the copyright claim to all interviews ASAP. You’re absolutely right, I never registered anything nor do I intend to; all interviews are out there for everybody to read, consult, quote, etc. I believe I added that notice a while back to ensure that proper credit was given to interviewer and interviewee, and the text that appears on our pages is not my invention, but what WordPress actually suggested I use. I just copied and pasted the notice, though to be frank I never took it very seriously. I did intentionally add the Creative Commons Licence, so apologies for the mixed messages. I hope you’ve enjoyed the interviews.

  4. nah, you don’t need to register your work to have copyright on it, and you don’t even need to claim copyright – you automatically get copyright on anything you publish – and blog posts count as published work. the creative commons deal is separate – that’s essentially a licensing scheme, or a set of schemes i guess, whereby a copyright holder sets certain terms for republication, reproduction, whatever. if you use language like that person did, you’re not getting any more or less copyright than someone who doesn’t use it – but it doesn’t hurt either. registration’s different, it just makes it easier to prove that you’re the copyright holder down the road. if you don’t register your published work, you still have copyright, it’s just (maybe) harder to prove.

      • Nah, anon is right. You don’t need a contract with a publisher (text, music, otherwise) to “publish” something. Once it’s in the world it’s published just as self-released music is published and has all associated protections.

        Back in the day, if you were in a band and wanted to release material without submitting it for registration you’d just mail a copy of the cassette to yourself and then keep it safe and sealed in case of dispute. Dispute tracks to oldest claim, so if someone took your music, registered it without your knowing, and you found out about it, if the postmark was older than the registration you were able to demonstrate origin and rights. You could do the same with a paper manuscript.

        The digital world is no different. Technically even “unpublished” work (work stored some place but not officially released) has copyright, so if someone stole your computer and released your in-progress greatest ever novel you could make a claim provided you could prove the work was yours (via backups on other drives or whatever).

        Official publishers just take care of all the business elements of releasing work, such as official registrations, duplication, promotion, or whatever. Or they don’t, as the case may be, depending on how much they care about you.

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