As a creator, the great thing about the internet is that you can upload your work and share it with people around the world for very little cost. The downside to this, however, is that people can illegally download and copy your work without your permission. This is why it is very important to protect the words, images, music and films you put on the internet. Here, in Part 1 of a two-part series on intellectual property (IP) and blog writing, Emily Shoemark focuses on protecting your IP rights as a blog writer. Part 2 will focus on infringement issues.

How does copyright work?

Copyright focuses on the protection of creative concepts such as music, films, artworks or books and original works such as media broadcasts and databases. In Australia, copyright is free and automatically given under the Copyright Act 1968. If a business generates an idea, including electronically, it is provided exclusive rights for 70 years after the death of the author of the work, in regards to the reproduction, performance, publication or broadcasting of that work.
Copyright protects original:

  • literary works e.g. written works such as the content on your blog, computer programs, compilations, novels, screenplays, song lyrics;
  • artistic works e.g. paintings, drawings, photographs, maps and plans;
  • dramatic works e.g. choreography, screenplays, plays;
  • musicals works which are separate from the sound recording or the lyrics; and
  • films, sound recordings, broadcasts and published editions.

What does copyright allow me to do?

The copyright owner has a number of exclusive rights, including the right to reproduce and to communicate the work to the public (broadcast or place on the internet). Other people need your permission or a licence to do those things.
Copyright is important because it:

  • protects your work against use by others without your permission, and
  • potentially allows you to get money for your work.

The general rule is that the “creator” of a literary, artistic, dramatic or musical work and the “maker” of a film, sound recording, broadcast or published edition are the copyright owners. However, exceptions to the general rule include situations where the creator is an employee, is commissioned to create the work, is a freelancer, or the work was created under the direction and control or first published by the Government. So if you are writing blogs as an employee and they are published on your employer’s website, then the employer is the copyright owner.
There are also a number of fair dealing exceptions to copyright infringement, including fair dealing for the purpose of criticism and review, parody and satire, research and study, and reporting the news.

Tips for protecting your work on your website

Copyright will only protect your original work if you take steps to enforce your rights and prevent infringement.
Set out in your disclaimer or terms and conditions on your website the conditions of reuse of your material. It is best to have legal advice to ensure this statement is legally binding. There are ways to protect material, and in particular images, you upload on the internet from being used without your permission:

  • add a visible watermark to your images before uploading them
  • disable right-click
  • add invisible information to your images online
  • upload low-resolution images only — no more than 72dpi
  • put the © notice with your name next to your work.
  • give people the possibility to contact you — for example, by showing your email address. It will be easier for someone to ask for your permission to use your work.

How can Snedden Hall & Gallop assist?

If you have not protected your intellectual property rights in your blog writing and on your website, you need to think about formally protecting your copyright. If you have any questions, please contact Emily Shoemark and our intellectual property team on (02) 6285 8000 or by email.

Further reading: Part 2 focuses on infringement of your IP rights as a blog writer.