COPYRIGHT, what’s the biggy deal?



Up front, I wouldn’t be writing this article in the first place if there was a complete understanding of this subject. And it’s long, and full of redundancies. I didn’t have time to edit it very strenuously because I was busy putting my copyright notice on all my pictures this week. I only write it because it affects each and every person that creates something of worth in this world.  I feel sorry and let down about myself in a way, because I wanted my blog to be light-hearted, enjoyable, and totally nice.  Look here, this ain’t one of those things.  Just beat me, slap me, get it over with.  I’ll be back to my usual self soon.

THE QUESTION: Should I copy that article, graphic, Art, photograph, cartoon, video, or whatever I find on the internet? Should I re-post it on another website, or Facebook, or Twitter? Lots of people think if it’s on the internet in the first place, then it’s free for the taking. They “share” photos and artwork that they see there and generally don’t stop to ask to see if it belongs to someone. (It’s true, someone creates what you see on the internet)

Some take the creators stuff because they do not understand what copyright means. They don’t know that what they are doing is stealing. Some do it because they want something for free, or don’t have the money to pay for it, and some because they want to make money from whatever they find on the internet. Some rationalize it by reasoning that everyone else is doing it. Or they’ll be more popular if they re-post it somewhere.

Some accidentally copy things that some other person has posted without its original copyright notice, and so don’t know whether it public domain or not. Public Domain means there is no one that holds a copyright on the creation. Anyone can use it.

The word COPYRIGHT in the United States, is a right that automatically belongs to you from the moment you create whatever thing you create. It specifically relates to works of art, photography, digital creations, websites, videos, movie, written articles and books, and several other things that can be created.

The standard procedure is to attach a copyright notice to whatever you have created to notify people you are the owner. You paint, or print, or watermark copyright, year, your name, or your handle, or your url. It’s basically a label that explains and dates your ownership. You can also digitally sign a creation too. I do. Here are some examples:

© 2017 creator name

© creator name 2017

2017 © creator name

copyright 2017 creator name

(c) 2017 creator name

2017 creator name

creator name

© http://www.creator

copyright http://www.creator



My copyright notice in the lower left corner

I hand paint or draw my notice on each piece of art right after or during the finishing of it in an artful way that looks good but is minimally obvious. My early ones were simply © and my first name. On Photos it’s typed. My registered copyright certificates state several forms so any deviation is permitted that is listed.

The important part is that you have a notice, BUT . . .

Even if you don’t put a copyright notice on the art you STILL own the copyright which includes, the rights to copy, print, duplicate, display, any of your creations. In other words, just because there is no copyright notice on something doesn’t mean it isn’t copyrighted. My copyrights are registered with the U.S. Copyright Office, and also The Library of Congress, but even that is not necessary except that is helps if you must prove that you are the creator in court if you must. It’s the offical document. The point is, other people do not have this right because they do not own the copyright to your created works.

Applying for a copyright is not complicated, but can be very involved if you copyright a group of things at one time. One fee for a group, one fee for one creation, same same. It’s cheaper to do a group of things at one time.

You must send two copies of each creation, along with title, dimensions, date copyrighted and finished, any derivative works, and many other things, along with the application, any aliases. Along with your application fee. Then you wait several weeks for it to be processed, and recieve your copyright certificate. Which is good for your life plus I think 75 years or maybe I got that wrong and can’t remember exact. Whatever, it’s a long time. But it can take you a week to do the work to register, the price used to be ten dollars, and now it’s almost 50, so group is the way to go. That can get expensive. But it makes a complete record of your copyright ownership which is great if someone steals things from you. My first one in the 1980’s was done by taking a picture of each piece of art, then making two copys of each to enclose with the application. Nowdays you can scan your art in high definition. It’s much cheaper and easier.

You can give or sell away all your copyright (in writing). You can give or sell parts or different types of rights away, such as the right to let someone print a picture in a magazine, or use it in a book, or advertisement, or movie. You can sell one kind of right and keep all the others for yourself. You can sell one kind of right for a limited time period. But the whole point is that the creator is the only one that has the right ot do any of that, including printing and selling copies of your creation.

Transferring any part or type of your copy rights to a creation is something done with your permission, in writing, so on a so forth. When someone takes your creation and does what they wish with it, that is called a copyright VIOLATION.

If it is proven that the creation belongs to a certain creator, and it is proven that you have stolen (yes, it is stealing) part or all of a creation and used it for whatever you want, then there are certain penalties that can be required from you. You can be fined for taking something that doesn’t belong to you. It’s especially a problem if it is found that you have prevented the creator from making money from their own creation by your actions, or have made money yourself from a creation that belongs to someone else.  It can cost you real money.

Except under some very stringent conditions such as so called “fair use”, your copyright belongs EXCLUSIVELY to the creator. Nobody else has the right to copy, reproduce, print, sell, or benefit from your creations. This has been law for many years. And it has not changed.

The whole point of a copyright is that it is a creation just like building a house, and can be stolen. It is considered property under the law. It is property. When you own a copyright you have certain rights under U.S. law. And putting a copyright notice on a creation is a notification to anyone that you are the person that owns those rights. Kind of like posting a no tresspassing sign.

A copyright violator can be fined at least $10,000.00 for certain types of violations. Especially those people who use your art to make money or benefit from using it. Such as printing on T-shirts. Bad news for them

If someone copies the picture, such as with a screen shot, or copy it and remove everything THEY don’t want, then that’s a violation of the creators copyright. When someone who “shares” removes the copyright, or doesn’t ask if it’s okay, or doesn’t attach a click-able link to something they are TAKING, then that is a clear violation in my mind. This leads eventually to the blatant copyright violations such as a web page where someone is showing your art or photography with someone else’s name on it, and making money and “Likes” based on how likeable my art is.

I know people will tell you it’s no big deal. And some of them really believe that.

If I just borrowed your car, or your cell phone and sold it, that’s not a big deal is it?

Or, you left the lawn mower out in your yard and I really need one. (No problem.)

Well, you left it in the bathroom, so you must not want that ring. (Right, I didn’t want it.)

Oops, you left the keys in your car, so now it’s mine. (Yeah, I’ll make the payments for you while you drive it.)

You didn’t get that UPS package I saw on your front porch . . . (Sure I ordered that just for you)

Gee I opened your mailbox and it was full of mail, I’m just curious . . (no comment)

You didn’t have a no trespassing sign on your gate, so I just climbed over the fence (good luck with that)

Darn it, I really like that, and it doesn’t have a copyright notice on it, so it must be a Public Domain picture, right?

I’m not making money from it, so I’m not violating any laws? (don’t think so)

See, people nowdays are learning a special kind of morality. “If everyone else is doing it, then it’s okay”

But it’s not okay, even if they do it. It is the real definition of unscrupulous and thievery, and it upsets and enrages every artist, writer and creator that I’ve ever talked to. Like some say: “din’t yor Momma teach you nuthin’?”

I’m not mad at them, I’m not mad at someone that just doesn’t know everything. Just because you don’t know doesn’t mean I owe you the fruits of my creations and work. It took me my whole life to learn how to create what I can create.

I don’t mean to put off the very people who would never think of stealing a copyrighted piece of art or photography or writing. There are hundreds of you all over the world. I’m writing this article so that people who don’t understand a copyright might get a better idea of how copyright laws work. And for those that DO understand it very well, but continue to violate the law anyway.

Although what prompted this article was the fact that I have had things stolen not once, but many times. I wanted to post my artwork on Deviant Art, and my blog, but started with just photographs to see what got stolen the quickest and where it went when it was stolen. I didn’t have to wait long. Now I’m settin’ back and wondering at the wisdom of ever selling art online. No, ever displaying art online.


The place that took a photograph from my blog did not “share”, and did not ask permission. Even though I have had a well explained copyright notice on every one of my blog pages. But I think this place was in and out and didn’t even read it. “Oh, there’s a picture that will get my site some traffic!” I found my graphic posted on their website with “jewelant” under it, only because it was part of the file name, but no click-able link whatsover.  I did not at that time have a copyright notice on all my blog photographs.

What is so angering is that the person didn’t even ask if it was okay. And then proceeded to state that ALL the photos on their website were “PUBLIC DOMAIN”  They most emphatically do not have all “PUBLIC DOMAIN” pictures on their websites.  When you own the copyright to a creation, that’s tantamount to having someone pick your pocket and lie afterward saying they didn’t do that at all. So, after creating, spending time creating, now what do I get out of this unwilling arrangement?

I’m finding it necessary to post a copyright notice on every picture on the blog. It’s a process that has taken me all of a week to accomplish. It makes the photos look somewhat worse, depending on how you look at it.  But necessary so that nobody can say they didn’t see my notice on each and every page.  Now it has to be on each and every picture.  Okay, I’m at it, I’m doing it.  Like I didn’t have a million other things to do this week, but I’m on it.

See, that’s the whole point of a copyright. That the creator be the one to decide who benefits from their work.  Well, I’m working alright (grin)

When you re-blog, or share things on the internet, understand, a lot of artists and creators allow that even though strictly speaking it is a violation. But it’s a trade off because it many times equals free advertising or traffic to their blog, website, or online store. This is my thinking, but in order for that to happen there needs to be a click-able link back to the artists blog, website, or store. If not, then I call it what it is, a one-sided bit of stealing. 

And then the artist has no no good reason to want to post the art, the article, the video, the photo. There’s no reason to be nice or giving or creative when a bunch of strangers simply think your creative output is for free. When there is no link back then guess what? That’s stepping way too far on someones creative toes. And I’m not speaking just for myself. Thousands, literally thousands of artists feel just the same way.

Artists try to get around it by making sure there is a copyright notice, but people ignore that or worse yet illegally remove the notice.

Artists try to get around it by making all the art so small that it looks bad printed larger. But it’s still useful for someone to grab internet traffic with.

Artists try to get around it by putting lots of non-seeable “exif” information, but that can be removed.

Artists try to get around it by using a service like Digimarc, to make a non-removable mark, but that lowers the quality of the art.

Artists do all kinds of things to try to protect something that is ALREADY protected by copyright laws, but people copy anyway and say it’s not illegal. Calling it something it’s not for convenience.

But even well known and extremely talented artists on the internet have complained their artwork has been pirated, stolen, used, many times online, and they have had to resort to not giving anyone samples or defacing with watermarks, or even simply leaving the internet and deleting what they’ve posted in frustration.  They are saddened by how greedy people seem to be, and how all the talent and work they put into what they know is seemingly a useless endeavor.  They are not stupid people, or naive.  They just know that criminals should not be benefitting for criminal behavior.

SOOOOOOOO . . . If you want to be an up front kind of person, then try this:

Learn how to make a clickable link. It’s not hard, just put the http://www. or https://www. blankety blank blank the name when you comment or post somewhere. Even facebook automatically will make it clickable for you when it’s worded like that. Cut and paste the link from the actual website or blog. Cut and past MINE. Now there’s no excuse any more. Anyone can do it. is my blog here at WordPress is my Deviant Art page is my Deviant Art Gallery is my Deviant Art Prints and gifts shop

(I just typed all that in and WordPress and the WordPress Editor made it so I could make it clickable for whoever clicks it.)

Learn to ask permission or if a certain thing is alright. I don’t even re-blog something without asking if the blogger likes that. I share a picture on Pinterest, but make sure I pin it from the website that has the link to the person that created it. If you think that’s a lot of trouble, think how much trouble it is for me to spend a whole afternoon writing this article. Or a whole week re-doing all the photos you’ve ever posted to an over 80 page blog

My copyright notice means please, do not copy and use my art and photography without my permission or agreement. It is not negotiable. Sure, you can do it, but that means that others can do the same to you with something YOU find valuable that you do not wish to just give away. Look at it like that and possibly you’ll see. How mad would you be if someone suddenly wanted to “share the contents of your phone with the entire world?

It’s wrong to steal peoples stuff, no matter what kind of stuff it is. Well, you can steal from a garbage can, but that doesn’t belong to them any more. (but it would be tacky, as in dumpster diver tacky) Don’t be a thief even if everyone says it’s okay. Don’t steal even if everyone else is doing it and calling it free. And don’t steal just because you want something really bad. That’s called being a greedy thief. And although it might get you “Likes” and followers on your social network, it won’t ever be real, or because you were personally so special.

It’s good to think good about yourself. The way to do that is to do good things, and be the person that you admire.






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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Hi, sorry to read that you’ve had such bad experiences. I always wonder ‘how would I know if someone ‘stole’ my photos from my blog and re-used them?’
    Personally, I choose mostly not to add blatant copyright notices, watermarks and such things because, as you point out, it’s automatically copyrighted without and I can’t imagine why anyone would want to ‘nick’ my stuff. I choose to assume that most people in the blogging community aren’t content-thieves ,however naiive that might or might not be in reality I try not to worry about it too much.
    The biggest ‘content thieves’ are the platforms/service providers that re-use uploaded content and then sell images etc on to third parties without paying a royalty to the originator (who has taken advantage of the storage and showcasing platform. Unfortunately, it’s a common clause in the Service User Agreement for most content hosting platforms)..
    Occasionally I take screenshots for reference for personal study – but they’re not usually from personal blogs such as this and mostly they’re only for reference, although occasionally I have posted a screenshot of another website if I’m writing an article-type post about it. (again not personal blogging sites usually information sites/organisations – and I’d ask permission if it were ‘art’ or such like if I wanted to use it in a post. But like you say, not everyone understands or respects intellectual property rights. Best wishes to you in your endeavours.


  2. This is a very detailed account on copyrights, good job on the research and putting the temperament of the populace down into words.


    • Thank you. I appreciate yor appreciation!


  3. Excellent article. Thanks for visiting my blog. I’m adding a link to this post on my article. 🙂


    • After I wrote it, I was convinced in the back of my mind that it was a bit too much overkill and that it might have broken my normally light hearted blog. But principle makes me keep it. Thanks for linking to my blog!

      Liked by 1 person

      • My absolute pleasure and I thought it was perfect! 🙂 Happy New Year!

        Liked by 1 person

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