Bigger, Better, Bolder: A Quick Guide To Copyright For Bloggers

This is the next post in a very exciting series we’re bringing to you on IFB in anticipation of the upcoming #IFBcon. Each day in the month of August, we’ll have a different post designed to help your blog become – you guessed it – bigger, better and bolder.

In the blogosphere there are few topics that cause more debate, uncertainty and confusion than copyright. For a time, there were no set rules or guidelines for independent online publishers to follow to make sure their content was protected. We have the DMCA Act of 1998, but 14 years later we've developed some written (and unwritten) updates. As this post from states so nicely, it's about both ethics and etiquette.

With all the upcoming fashion week and #IFBcon coverage that may appear on your blog, now is the perfect time to refresh your knowledge of the legal rights and responsibilities we have as bloggers. You very well could be using images from other sources and quoting fashion journalists or conference speakers on yolur site – so it's key to know the protocol so as to protect yourself and give proper credit.

We've posted more in-depth articles on copyright for bloggers in the past, which are linked below (with a few additional sources as well). For today's purposes, here is an oh-so-quick briefing of important copyright points for independent bloggers to know:

Your content:

  • You are the publisher, author, artist and owner of all the unique content you post on your site.
  • Your content is yours, and you have the right to control how it is used, where it is used and who can use it.
  • You own your words as well as your original images and videos (and any original design elements you created for your site)
  • It's recommended (but not required for protection) to put a copyright notice somewhere on your blog's main page.
  • Be mindful of libel and slander on your blog. These are written and spoken forms of defamation (respectively) which means making false statements about another person or entity.
  • To be clear about how anyone can use your content, you may want to set up at Terms of Use for your site. This is to let readers and users know what they can use from your site (and how), as well as what your obligations are to them, and what you can do in terms of editing, removing, and changing material (which may also apply to reader comments).


Other people's content:

  • If you use an image from another source (photogapher, web site, magazine, etc) you must cite and link to (if possible) that source.
  • The Fair Use Doctrine says that some material protected by copyright may be reproduced without permission of the copyright holder if it meets certain qualifications (providing criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching or research).
  • Fair Use is a bit of a grey area in blogging, so if you have any doubts about whether or not it's okay to use someone else's material (and how), ask permission first.
  • You cannot use others' intellectual property or copyrighted material for commerce. (That does not fit under Fair Use.)
  • Plagerism is stealing ideas and/or content and publishing them as your own. Citing your sources is the easiest way to avoid plagiarism, whether it’s quoting someone or giving them credit for an idea you’re discussing.


More Resources:


*Please note that our guides & tips apply only to bloggers in the US – we don't have the resources or expertise to speak on other countries' laws. 

*Disclaimer: Information in this guide is based on general principles of law and is intended for information purposes only. It is not offered for the purpose of providing individualized legal advice. Use of this guide does not create an attorney-client or any other relationship between the user and IFB or the lawyers consulted.

 [Image credit: Armak Akcadogan / Shutterstock]


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4 Responses

  1. Sarah's Real Life

    I was happy to see this headline because I’m a law student, and I’m taking intellectual property law this year. We’re only 3 days into the semester, so I don’t have any special knowledge I can add to this article (yet), but I’m excited about the class and I’m sure I’ll keep blogging in the back of my mind when we cover copyright!

    Sarah’s Real Life

  2. Sapphire Kharyzma

    With so many ‘copyrights’ etiquette you would think that it would be mastered by now! I stopped getting ‘aggy’ over it — because we will ALWAYS encounter pirates, however I still try to take proper precaution…

  3. Natasha - SNOWBLACKBLOG

    Although this is an important topic, I can’t tell you how difficult it is to deal with copyright infringement when you are not a big shot company like Vogue or IFB, etc. I have come across a girl who used my images on a group page – practically waited for me to post a new blog entry – and when I confronted her, she blocked me from her page ! She does this to other bloggers in England I know. I can get worked up about it, or focus on making my blog what I want it to be. We are not all Rumi Neely or Brian Boy, whereby people will automatically recognise where the images are from. But I also don’t want to paste my logo on each and every photo of mine out there. It doesn’t look nice (in my opinion) and is a waste of time. I wish there was an invisible water mark tool unique to each computer whereby if someone copies and saves my images with my permission then some logo pops up across it, but sadly that’s not how the world work. Catch the criminals if you can but don’t give yourself a stroke over it.