According to copyright laws, anything you create is yours from the time that you create it. This goes for paintings, novels, and all of your online content. You don't need to go through any special copyrighting process. You don't have to declare your rights ahead of time. If you created it, it belongs to you.
Which means that anyone who publishes the text or images you created without your permission is violating the law.
So, what can you do if someone copies your content? Here are a few tips:
1. Assess the situation.
Was the copyright infringement an honest mistake? Is your content making money for the other person? Who took your content (was it a large corporation or a teenager setting up her first blog)?
Understanding the context of the copyright infringement will help you understand how to approach the situation.
2. Contact the site owner--and be clear about what you want.
Once you understand the context of the copyright infringement, it's time to reach out.
If you simply want your content taken down, explain that this work belongs to you and that you need the site owner to remove it from their site. If the site owner has been making profit off your images or text, you can take a leaf from Getty Images' book and send the violator a bill for the use of your photograph or content.
Whatever you are requesting--be it removing content from their site or compensating you for the use of your work--be sure to identify the specific page, photo, or text that belongs to you and be clear about what you want the site owner to do.
3. Get tough.
If you don't want to reach out to the site owner yourself or if you're having trouble getting them to comply, DMCA offers one free content takedown service per year through their DMCA Badge Protection service. They also have fee-based services if you need more than one takedown per year.
And if you're a blogger, artist, or creative with a following? You could always try an unconventional route like travel blogger, Turner Barr, who, after his brand was copied by a large, international corporation, fought back with an explosion of negative press that forced the large corporation to compensate him fairly.
About the Author
Erin Pheil is the owner and lead strategist at TimeForCake Creative Media, a boutique web design, development, and strategy agency located in Colorado. For over a decade she has helped small-to-mid sized businesses achieve their specific online goals through goal-driven websites, online marketing strategies, and long-term continual improvement plans. Follow Erin on Twitter @TimeForCake and visit her site at TimeForCake.com
A quick reminder;
National Cyber Security Awareness Month is due to kick off October 1st! As a supporting "Champion" of this annual campaign to educate, engage and remind the public that being safer and more secure online is a shared responsibility, this blog will be sharing useful tips, info and personal stories designed to help the public StaySafeOnline!