When Does Reblogging and Pinning Things Violate Copyright?


We All Like to Reblog by Andy P, WordPress.com, June 1, 2010
Have you ever come across a blog post that you enjoyed so much you wanted to easily share it with the readers of your own blog? Sure, you can copy and paste the link and perhaps even a snippet of text with your own comments, but overall it’s not a particularly enjoyable experience. We wanted to change this and make sharing other posts with your readers as easy as posting to your blog.

On December 5, 2011, I got a notice that one of my posts had been Reblogged. When I clicked the link that pointed to the site that had reblogged me, this image is what I saw:

In the case of this particular post, the reblog contained about half of what I said, plus one of my photos in its original size. The Blogger that copied my post did not add any of their own content.

I was not asked for, nor did I give permission for someone to copy and post one of my photos. Reblogging, in this case, looks an awful lot like content theft.

Content theft happens all the time on the internet, but that doesn’t make it right. Each and every one of us holds a Copyright to the content on our blogs, as long as we are the original writer of the words, photographer of our photos, or designer of our graphics. We don’t even have to post a notice of Copyright for this to be so. (But it is a good idea to do this to remind others that your content is not free for the taking. WordPress discusses how to Prevent Content Theft.)

No one else is allowed to copy this content in it’s entirety without our express permission. They can, however, take small excerpts from it for inclusion in their work, provided they give us credit. These snippets should be for the purpose of criticism, commentary or news reporting and are considered “fair use”.

In the case of a photograph or graphic, the photographer or graphic artist has the sole right to produce and reproduce the photograph or any substantial part of it. No one can use that photo or graphic without permission.

All WordPress Bloggers signed Terms of Service. We agree that we will not “download, copy and use Content that infringes the proprietary rights, including but not limited to the copyright, patent, trademark or trade secret rights, of any third party”. In turn, we as bloggers “grant Automattic a world-wide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, modify, adapt and publish the Content solely for the purpose of displaying, distributing and promoting our blog.”

I contacted the owner of the blog that has violated my photo copyright. They did not approve my comment, respond to my complaint, or remove my photo. I contacted WordPress and asked them to facilitate the removal of my photo from this site. WordPress eventually responded by blocking the offending blog completely.

So, what do you think about Reblogging? Does it look like content theft to you?
Have you ever included photos or graphics in your blog that you have not obtained permission to use?

Pinterest and Copyright

Copyright law governs the use of these works on the internet, just as it does in all other forms of publication. Contrary to popular opinion, everything on the Internet is NOT in the Public Domain.

Perhaps the largest segment of the internet population who violate Copyright (and there are over 70 million of them now) are Pinterest Users.   Copyright violation (content theft) occurs every time a Pinterest User ‘pins’ a photo or an article to one of their boards – unless they get the permission of the author or the artist to do so. The reason it is content theft is simple. Pinterest pins are exact duplicates of the original content which is stripped of identifying metadata and then stored on Pinterest’s servers.

Pinterest Pins are not thumbnails (thumbnails are not copyright violation because you have to go to the original source to see the full picture.) Pinterest Pins are not embedded links (like embedded video clip links, which are also not copyright violation.) Pins are a duplication of material that was created by someone else for use on their website. If the creator of that material does not give you permission to put that material on your page or board, you are violating the author or artists copyright.

Pinterest knows that Pinterest Users violate copyright all the time, but it isn’t really a concern of this well funded company (currently valued at $3.8 billion). Pinterest won’t be the ones on the hook if the original authors of the content get fed up with content theft. Pinterest have absolved themselves of any wrongdoing by stating that they “respect the intellectual property rights of others” and that that they expect their users to respect these property rights  too. Pinterest goes on to say that the user is solely responsible for the User Content  they post to Pinterest.

Pinterest also thinks they can do an end run around Copyright. They offer the owners of the original content a code that will prevent Pinterest users from being able to pin from code protected sites. This suggests that Pinterest believes that nothing is copyright unless the owner takes the responsibility of inserting the code into their site.

The vast majority of Pinterest Users do not even realize that they are guilty of content theft. If they do understand what that is, they don’t think they will ever be caught doing it, and if they are caught, they believe it is highly unlikely they will be sued. In their minds, what they are doing is really just the digital equivalent of the scrapbooks they used to make from the pretty pictures and comics they tore out of newspapers or magazines.

The difference between paper scrapbooks and internet ones is subtle, but important. When you buy a newspaper or magazine, you are not copying and distributing the item. You simply purchased the material for your own use.  If you were to scan and post that picture or comic to a website where it is available for illegal copying and downloading, you would then be violating the copyright of the author of the work. The same applies to the photo or article that you pin to your Pinterest Board. You have taken another person’s work (which you have not paid for) and made it available to the world without the author or artist’s permission.

Why is this a big deal to the person whose work has been taken?  When a photo is pinned to a board, it becomes a competing version of that image. This often siphons image search traffic away from the source site. If that source site is trying to sell their work, that affects their business. Many Pinterest users gather their pins from other Pinterest Users. This means that Pinterest Users don’t even have to go to the original source of the image at all, and that further erodes traffic to the very people who are producing the work in the first place.

Last, but not least – Pinterest is setting themselves up to make some serious money through advertising. They have started off with Sponsored Pins – which are promotions for certain pins from a select group of businesses. These pins will be targeted to match the content the users pin to their boards.  Where does that content come from? All the creative people who take photos and create art and write the stories that get ‘appropriated’ by Pinterest users.  Will any of those creative people be financially compensated for that content? Not likely.

I’d like to end this story with a lesson as to what can happen if a person ‘borrows’ a nice picture without getting permission. This  is a post by blogger Roni Loren: (Bloggers Beware: You CAN Get Sued For Using Pics on Your Blog – My Story).

Winter Disorders – SAD and SDUSTD

In the Northern Hemisphere, December 21 is the day that has the least number of daylight hours. Where I live, that is a scant 7 hours and 54 minutes.  Today, the greatest altitude of the sun above the horizon will be 15.6 degrees. If you compare that to June 21, when there are 16 hours and 33 minutes of daylight, and the sun rises to 62.4 degrees above the horizon, you can understand why I am suffering from SDUSTD.

Some people get SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) which is a form of depression thought to be caused by not getting enough sunshine. While I believe I suffer somewhat from this, the disorder I am suffering from today is SDUSTD, which is Seasonal Dusty Disorder. While SAD is caused by too little sunshine, SDUSTD is caused by the low altitude of the sun.

By way of explanation, here are some photographs:

This is a photo of dust on the top of the coffee table. Allowed to gather and multiply for a scant few weeks, this dust would normally be unobtrusive. But when caught by a shaft of light at 15.6 degrees, every speck stands out in sharp contrast.

These crumbs arrived on the counter this morning. Normally I would not have noticed their accumulation for days, but with the sun slanting across the surface at 15.6 degrees, every crumb is clearly visible.

Last, but certainly not least, is this drip on the window pane. When the sun is low, the windows appear filthy, making it look like I hadn’t washed them a mere two months ago.

And so it goes. Everywhere I turn the low sun plays across every surface, taunting me with cries from my furniture, “Dust me, please, I’m suffocating!”

Oddly enough, though, the inside of the fireplace is clean. Santa, it is safe for you to visit my house. You will not choke on soot, nor land in a bed of ashes! Steer clear of the coffee table though. The dust bunnies are getting to be a remarkable size!

Layered Portrait Within a Portrait

A Portrait within a Portrait. I wish I could claim the idea as my own, but I have seen it done before. I just can’t find a link to show you!

The photos were pretty straight forward to take – bring a tall stool from the kitchen, stack a footstool on top of it, set the wooden clock on top of that and then sit the camera on the very top. (Think Yertle the Turtle, only my motivation was different.) Set the timer, press the button, pick up the picture frame, move into position. Click.

Repeat… many times. The photos weren’t as clear as I would have liked – too much wobble in the tower that held the camera.  A tripod would have worked better, I suppose, but I couldn’t find one.  I called in The Car Guy and got him to take a few of the photos, so I can’t claim that the entire project is a Self Portrait, I’m afraid!

Once the pictures were on my computer, I invoked the great and powerful Photoshop Elements and created five layers, one layer for each of the five photos I chose. I erased the pixels that were inside each of the five picture frames, then shrunk each successive photo to fit each frame.

Do you think you look the same in a photo as you do in your mirror? Could you live without ever looking at yourself? I tried going a whole day without looking in the mirror. Pretty easy, actually, because I don’t wear make-up. It was a bit hard to put in eye-drops, though. The Car Guy said that shaving would be a bit dodgy without a mirror.

You will regret that cell-phone self-portrait in the bathroom mirror one day.
– Unknown Author –

A portrait is a painting with something wrong with the mouth.
– John Singer Sargent –

Path from Your Blogging House to Mine

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson –

Now and then I catch sight of the animals that visit our woods. In the summer time, they come and go without leaving much hint of who they are, nor how long they stayed. In the Winter time, with snow on the ground, the story is different.
animal woods winterThe deer have well defined paths that create a link from the woods/hay field in the north to the farmer’s grain field in the south.

This reminds me of some of the writers on my Blogroll – the people who have linked to my blog, and I, in turn, have linked to theirs – a bloggers reciprocity treaty!

There are other paths in the snow, the ones that are left by the creatures coming and going from less fixed destinations. This makes me think of the people who frequently leave comments.

Another group of special bloggers are the ones who have nominated me for the numerous Awards that bloggers give to one another.

Last, but certainly not least, are the Silent Majority. They leave no mark, but their presence can still be felt. In blogging terms, these are the folks that visit regularly, nod or shake their head, and move on. Though I can’t read their thoughts, I value the fact that they are readers!

Thanks to all of you and Merry Christmas!

Very Short Christmas ‘To Do’ List – 2011

It will come as a shock to no one that cancer isn’t something you put on your “LIST OF THINGS TO DO TODAY”.
– Erma Bombeck, Chapter 13, I Want to Grow Hair, I Want to Grow Up, I Want to go to Boise – Children Surviving Cancer-

Early December, 1992. The diagnosis was acute lym­phoblastic leukemia. Our youngest child, a teenager who had been feeling ill for only a few weeks, was suddenly a cancer patient.

My Christmas “To Do” list was pretty short that year – put up our Christmas Tree at home and a little tree at the hospital. I suppose I cooked a turkey on Christmas Day, but I don’t really remember. I wrote my annual Christmas Letter, but it was very short. It started out with, “Then, life took one of those turns that you never really expect…”

Christmas happened any how. The rest of the family stepped in and upheld the traditions they felt were important. Friends and family visited and brought baking (which was a special treat because it is well known that I only know how to make two kinds of cookies.)

I only remember shopping for one gift that year. Our very sick child wanted me to get a tie for her dad. Not just any tie – a tie that would make him smile every time he knotted it around his neck. That was a big order, because The Car Guy felt that ties were really just a fancy type of noose, and he detested them… Fortunately, the Disney Company came to my rescue with a festive little number full of holiday cheer!

Much has changed since the Christmas of 1992. All our kids, including our sick teenager, grew up and married. Grand children were born (though not to our Cancer patient, unfortunately). But one thing has stayed the same – my ‘To Do’ list is very short. I decorate, I listen to carols. I feed the gang dinner on Boxing Day. I don’t bake. My gift giving list is pared to the bone, because to be honest, most of the people we know have just about everything they could possibly need!

Christmas, for us, is about peace and goodwill, visiting friends and family, laughing and crying because it is the month of December. Christmas is a feeling, not a present, and that is just part of what makes it priceless…

An adult friend asked Christina what she would like for her eighth birthday. The small child, diagnosed with neuroblastoma, rubbed her hand over her bald head, then rested her face in her hands and said, “I don’t know. I have two sticker books and a Cabbage Patch doll. I have everything.  (Christina, age 12, Alpena, Michigan)
– Erma Bombeck, Chapter 2, I Want to Grow Hair, I Want to Grow Up, I Want to go to Boise – Children Surviving Cancer –

While I am thankful to the medical community for the successful treatment of our child, it is Erma Bombeck who was my guide through the months of treatment. Everyone should buy and read her book about Children Surviving Cancer. (The proceeds from the sale of this book go to various Cancer Societies.) Only Erma could write Cancer Stories that  make you smile…


We Say Merry Christmas – 2011

How Our Non-Religious Family celebrates Christmas!

We aren’t all practicing Christians, but we say Merry Christmas, and we sing Christmas Carols. We decorate our house, and eat turkey. We visit friends, and we exchange gifts. We believe in the miracle of the birth of all children. We hope for Peace on Earth, and we extend our hands to all in Good Will.  We don’t think you have to belong to any particular religious denomination to accept and celebrate all that is good about this holiday – this holiday we call Christmas.

Some of the most wonderful things have to be believed to be seen. Like flying reindeer and angels. Like peace on earth, goodwill, hope, and joy. Real because they can be imagined into being. Christmas is not a date on a calendar but a state of mind.
– Robert Fulghum –

Which Way do you Look When the Sun Sets?

Nothing interferes with my concentration. You could put on an orgy in my office and I wouldn’t look up. Well, maybe once.
– Isaac Asimov –

National Geographic is running a Series called Test Your Brain. The episode I recently watched demonstrated how adept our brains are at focusing on the task at hand, and how dismal we actually are at multitasking. By multitasking, I mean doing two tasks at the same time, both requiring complete attention.

This isn’t the same as ‘background tasking‘, where we are doing one thing mindlessly while doing another thing that requires attention (like eating dinner while talking to our spouse or cleaning the house while listening to music.) It also isn’t the same as ‘task switching’ where we are alternately doing several things (like typing a blog post and talking on the phone.)

This amazing ability to focus is why we accomplish the things we set out to do! We achieve our best work when we tune out distractions and concentrate on one thing.

There are times, however, when it is a good idea to check to see if the distractions might be of value to us. If we paid more attention to diversions, we would know how magicians do their tricks. We would be able to stop a pick pocket before they took our wallet. We would be good witnesses to what happened at an accident. And we would look both east and west when the sun is going down!

A Sunset – looking West
The same sunset – looking East

I suppose I could write more about multitasking, but my brain has headed off on the topic of diversionary tactics, and I fear it won’t be back before lunch time…

Waiting – Fisherman on a Wharf

The opposite of talking isn’t listening. The opposite of talking is waiting.
– Fran Lebowitz –

We were at the coast (British Columbia) last week. The weather was chilly, but not too cold for avid fishermen. I photographed this gent fishing … and waiting… and waiting… and fishing. I think you have to be patient if you want to enjoy this sport.

Last year I went fishing with Salvador Dali.  He was using a dotted line.  He caught every other fish.
– Steven Wright –

Our Family Grows Up

The family.  We were a strange little band of characters trudging through life sharing diseases and toothpaste, coveting one another’s desserts, hiding shampoo, borrowing money, locking each other out of our rooms, inflicting pain and kissing to heal it in the same instant, loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together.
– Erma Bombeck –

A Dad, A Mom, and Three Daughters – our little family in 1978.

For us, the family idea means not only kin but kinship. Not only distant cousins but also close friends, neighbors, the special people in your life. In fact, everyone who feels like family.
– CP/RA – Recreation and the Family 1980 –

A brother-in-law, the nephews wife, the nephew, the brother-in-laws best friend and his wife, a son-in-law, a daughter, The Car Guy and meour Biking Family in 2008.