There is much talk on AR right now about what is appropriate to post in our blogs. Can I upload a picture without paying for it? Can I cut and paste an article? What if it's from my website and I'm paying for it? What if I give credit to the author?
These and many other questions confront us as we try to gain an increased presence on the web. The easy way is to plead ignorance and just do it. But is it right? Is it legal?
As I was once told by a judge when I was in college, "Ignorance is no excuse..."
Last year I started blogging and one of my first blogs was to post an article that I had found on the best repairs to make to improve the value of your home. I found an excellent article and posted it. I gave credit to the author and went on with life. Several months later I was contacted by Broderick Perkins, He runs Deadline News and is a regular contributor to Realty Times. He's a gifted editor and writes easy to understand pieces. One of his "spiders" found my article and I received a form "cease and desist" email from him with some terse language. I stepped back from my religion and we had a heated week of email bantering, for which I later apologized.
To make a long story short, he showed me that what I had done was a Federal Offense, yes, you heard me right.
He likened it to me making a million copies and giving them away. (I could only wish that I had a million visitors to my blog. Heck, I'd settle for a couple hundred thousand, maybe even a 100...) I don't have to ask, because I know that none of us would think of going to the copy machine and making 100 copies of an article to hand out to our clients. That would be illegal. Right?
He made some good points. He gets paid for his writing. When we copy his material he doesn't get paid. If we post his material to our website or blog, and not provide a direct link, then his advertisers are robbed. They are assuming a certain amount of clicks.
Put yourself in his shoes. How do you like it when you work hard for a client only to have them decide to go with another agent who will work for less? I truly believe in the Law of Reciprocity. What goes around comes around. If you find yourself struggling in your business look at your ethics in the little things...
Brad Templeton, Chairman of the Board of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the leading foundation protecting liberties and privacy in cyberspace, has a series of articles on copyrighting. He explodes some myths that you really need to read. Take a look. How many do you break? Make sure that you at least read the summary at the bottom.
Another article explores linking. It is still undecided as to whether or not it's even legal to link to another site. For now, go ahead and link, but if the author asks you to stop, then please do so. The issue is whether or not the author has control over how his/her material is distributed. Would you want a link to your website from a porn site? I wouldn't.
So what's the proper protocol?
I'll use a real life example.
Daniel with Daily Blog Tips has written a very informative blog on the use of material found on the Internet. Here's the direct link to the blog. Copyright Laws: 12 Do's and Don'ts. I found it informative as there were several assumptions that I had that are wrong. For instance, did you know that just because something isn't copyrighted doesn't mean that you can freely use it?
... get the gist?
Daniel with the Daily Blog Tips, in his post Copyright Laws: 12 Do's and Don'ts states "Don't copy material just because it does not show a copyright message: the Copyright Law required a copyright notice to protect works until 1977. In 1978, however, the law changed and abolished the requirement for copyright notice. This means that every published work (be it on paper or digital media) automatically gets copyright protection, whether expressed with a notice or not."
Here I quoted a portion of the article with a reference and link to his blog.
These are just a few ways. I'm sure there are plenty more. Basically, get your freshman writing book and learn how to give credit.
I hope that this helps.
Larry Morris is a loan Officer with Equipoint Financial Network in Newberg, Oregon. He specializes in relocations and Sherwood, Oregon neighborhoods. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His website is www.PDX-Mortgage.com. This material is copy protected 2007 by Larry Morris, Mortgage News that Matters. All Rights Reserved
UPDATED: 5/19/07 - I recently communicated with my website provider, ala mode, regarding the appropriateness of webpages being copied and posted on AR as origional material. There have been several instances where I have been able to identify AR members as doing this. Here is their response.
According to the End User License Agreement, you cannot copy content from your XSite for use on another site, including blogging sites. The people you see doing it now are in violation of the EULA. An acceptable solution would be for your blog to link to your site which is better for you. First, you are in compliance with the EULA. Second, you will have a website linking to your content on your "domain. This is good in regards to your search engine rankings. The more sites you have linking to your content the more "relevant" your site becomes in terms of the content you are providing - in this case real estate content.
If you have any questions on how to do this, you can always call our support department. Thank you!
a la mode, inc.
Update 5/20/07 - I just received the following post to this blog. It's being used by permission. GUYS AND GALS - THIS IS NOT WORTH PLAYING AROUND WITH!!!!!
"Larry - this stuff is very real. I got popped 5K for illegal use of pictures that my web designer used on my site. They are claiming ignorance yet I am being told the web site is in my name, so penny up............"
|05/20/2007||by Lewis Poretz|