My fellow writer's argument: he was trying to be helpful, was promoting another author who would be grateful for the extra promotion, and he hadn't profited from posting it so it wasn't infringement.
My argument: if you haven't received permission from the author and you've posted their article, especially in its entirety, it's copyright infringement. And as writers, we should be very careful not to cross that line.
Is it copyright infringement if you reproduce an article without the author's permission? Yes.
Even if you don't make any money off it? Yes.
Even if you're trying to help that author? Yes.
There were two solutions to this issue that the writer could have explored. He could've emailed the author for permission; most authors will say yes but may have guidelines/rules. Or he could've posted the link to wherever the article was posted legally.
Over the years, I've found a handful of my articles printed online without my permission. One misspelled my name. One didn't include my name. One altered my text. One added their own advertisement links where I had linked to sites like Facebook. One didn't include a link to my website. I can assure you, I didn't feel honored and I doubt I made any sales from them. In fact, I usually asked them to either attribute me correctly, or in the case of one person who thought it was their God given right to print whatever they wanted, I asked them to remove my article. But if someone asks me first if they can reproduce one of my articles (without any changes) and adds my name (correctly spelled) and a live link to my site, I am happy. And honored.
I know I'm not the only one who has experienced this. I once reproduced a post from a newsletter. The owner of the newsletter stated they had permission to use it and so did the subscribers. After I posted it, the author contacted me and asked me why I'd infringed on her copyright. I explained I thought she'd given permission, as was mentioned in the newsletter. She didn't even know her material had been used in that newsletter. She was pissssed!
I don't blame her, and I felt pretty awful about it. I offered to immediately remove my post, but she graciously allowed me to use it. I'd already attributed her and had included a link to her site (which was how she found out I'd printed her post).
Have you ever found your material illegally reproduced online? If you did, how did you respond? If you haven't, how would you feel about it--especially as I've mentioned--without your name or incorrectly spelled, no links to your site, edited text etc?
I think this is something every writer should be wary of. And anyone who feels that by using someone else's material, they're honoring them or helping them. You're not. Get permission. Or use links; they work. :-)
For some interesting insights into copyright, please check out the following:
- 10 Big Myths about copyright explained
- Basic Copyright Concepts For Writers
- Canadian Intelligent Property Office - Copyrights
- Canadian Authors Association - Copyright
My fellow writers and I will appreciate your respect.
Cheryl Kaye Tardif,
Bestselling author & book marketing coach
P.S. In case you're wondering, this blog post is copyrighted. If you'd like to repost it on your site, blog or to a writers' group, please email me via http://www.cherylktardif.com/. Or feel free to add just the title and link to the article here. Thank you. :-)