Maybe The Blogosphere Is Better WITHOUT Copyright?


When someone creates something and puts it on the internet, there is always a risk that people will take that creation and do whatever they want with it. On one hand it's costing a lot of people a lot of money, and possibly their careers. On the other hand copyright violations and content stealing has powered most of what we love about the internet anyway.

There is a lot written about why we need copyright laws. Why we should protect our work from getting stolen. But to play devil's advocate… what if you opened your content to the Public Domain? What if you “released” the copyright to your blog?

I've been on both sides of this matter. Once a blogger decided to use one of my blog's names as their own name and I had to sue them. Once another blogger accused me of stealing their content (even though if I used the same “logic” they did, they stole not only most of their own content from my blog… but their entire site was a knock-off of IFB.) Then again, IFB is a knock-off of another site, Problogger. So yeah, there's that. I make no bones about stealing and being stolen from on the intellectual property front.

“In the 4+ years I’ve done this experiment, releasing copyright has not hurt me, the creator of the content, a single bit.”

In 2008, Leo Baubuta of Zen Habits released his entire blog to the Public Domain. He loosely asked for credit for use of his work, “Attribution is appreciated, but not required.” By 2010, Time Magazine placed him on a list of the top 25 blogs in the world. He said “In the 4+ years I’ve done this experiment, releasing copyright has not hurt me, the creator of the content, a single bit.”

It made me wonder if in fact we had been going about “owning” the content of our blogs. Sure, it sucks if someone uses the same idea and got credit for it.  I mean, like the “High on Potenuse” skit on Key & Peele, especially if someone steals your idea and gets credit for it.


Anyone can steal an idea once. But it takes talent to keep the brilliant ideas coming. Instead of spending energy on thinking about who copied what, spend that energy on how to come up with a more brilliant idea that can't ever be copied or stolen. Maybe that's when you'll find your true calling.

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6 Responses

  1. Joely Smith

    I have recently considered putting a copyright on my blog but then I said to my husband there was no point, even with it people will steal what they want to steal. I do not have the resources to sue someone and personally, I have far better things to do with my time. I do not WANT someone to steal my original content but on the other hand the truth always comes out in the wash – it is easy enough to prove who posted what first if it comes down to a matter of pride, or ego, or just letting your readers know it was your idea, not someone else’s. I just don’t care enough to worry about these things. I would rather spend more time making my blog look amazing, provide great content, and learning more about blogging itself.

  2. Kylie

    My rule of thumb is…people can quote my words, link a credit back for photos. Commercial use of my photos needs to be paid for.

  3. Kellie The Shoe Diva

    I usually watermark my pictures but if they think they’re good enough to swipe, by all means go for it. As long as they don’t go running off with my logo (which I had someone try to do), they can use whatever else. Afterall, when we see pictures that link to no where on Pinterest, weren’t those kinda “borrowed”? I am with Joely, I am too busy creating more content to worry about what they may have taken and it does all come out in the wash.

  4. Sheela Goh

    Truthfully, I’ve not given the topic much thought because I don’t think I have enough of a following to even attract copycats at this point. Beyond that, as it is with my peers, I’m focused on producing good, regular content and that consumes copious amounts of time as well as energy. Throw in the learning to improve my website on a continuous basis, and I’m honestly too spent to consider copyright issues. That said, writing in itself is so subjective and personal, it’s tough to copy wholesale without bells ringing. Ideas are another story altogether but then again; we’re all inspired by what’s around us. It’s the interpretation that makes it uniquely ours. Should push come to shove, there’s always posting dates, so there’s that.


  5. Charley

    I recently went to a masterclass about fashion editing where I found out about how ideas and observations are, in themselves intellectual property (paranoia fuel, much – since great minds, all too often, think alike) as well as photos, etc. As for photos, I know you’re supposed to get permission from photographers and PRs but then where do websites like Polyvore, which exist for the express purpose of clipping, collaging and embedding photos, come in?

    I don’t have much of a following but I have had some press interest in my DIY blog. Really, I’m totally cool with people using my work as long as they a) credit me and b) link back to the tutorial or page. I was kind of annoyed when an Indonesian magazine nicked an entire tutorial of mine without a word of credit ( and if you’re wondering, my original tutorial is at ) because it would have cost them nothing and I could have missed out on some followers. There need to be some rules in place but it should end at crediting and linking because surely the author could still get traffic off the back of that.