Monthly Archives: February 2011
ClassyRose at What’s Bugging Me Today posted a very interesting topic about copyright and how to protect your website content. Years ago when I was learning how to build websites I found the idea of using the copyright © symbol fascinating, I thought that tiny thing would protect me from anyone out there who might want to steal my ideas.
After a while I stopped considering anything I added to the internet worthy of theft. My graphic design work, 3D modelling and web design were original but since I wasn’t the only one doing it the idea of protecting what I had created seemed irrelevant. After all was I really worried if someone used my orignal work? More to the point, considering the vastness of the web, how would I ever know?
However, since I have returned to my writing I have been thinking about copyright issues and how I can protect myself. I regularly buy Writer’s Forum magazine and have been intrigued by several articles on the subject of authors who publish their novels online via blogs for example. Their aim, it seems, was to publish their entire novel online as printer friendly or in ebook format, build up a fan base and post regular articles with new excerpts or background tit-bits about their characters, worlds, plots, back story etc. I’ve noticed many amateur writers also publish their novels on ebook websites like ebook.com or on Amazon’s Kindle store, for £1 or even free.
Interesting note: Did you know that when you purchase an ebook you are not buying the book but the right to read a copy of it, compared to the physical object where you own the book but not the content.
I came across the Creative Commons License when I submitted some artwork to deviantART. Whilst the logo can’t actually prevent anyone from stealing original content I saw it had the potential to encourage fair play and honesty. I hadn’t considered applying the same method to my blog until I read ClassyRose’s post. I realised that so many of us post stuff on our blogs every day without stating our copyright terms for visitors to adhere to. I find it somewhat amusing to think anyone would leech content from my blog since it’s just random thoughts and wotnot, but…and it’s a big BUT…like so many others, I have spent a lot of time on my blog from writing, graphics, research, reading etc. So why shouldn’t I try to protect what I have written?
But does everyone share that view?
Let’s say Mrs Smith likes to share her cooking recipes on her blog, mainly for her own enjoyment, swapping tips with other bloggers and visitors. One day she happens to come across a cooking website and sees her recipe. I see 2 reactions to this:
1) She could be angered by this as no request to use her recipe has been made. Why should someone steal her work without permission? Her recipe for stuffed tomatoes might not be original but it is her creation, she took the time to write it out online and the words belong to her.
2) She could be flattered that her recipe was deemed good enough for someone to feature it on another cooking website.
Of course this question depends on how much you value your content. I read an interesting forum at www.sheffieldforum.co.uk where someone called Cyclone posted this:
Even if the idea is new it cannot be protected. Copyright just covers the words that you wrote, not the plot or storyline.
So does that mean it’s fair to rip off someone else’s hard work so long as you don’t use their exact words? How do those budding online self publishing writers from Writer’s Forum cope knowing anyone can take their hard work, change the words around and claim it as their own?
Do I publish my novel online?
I’m currently working on a writing project that I am very excited about. I’m writing the book in three parts or novellas, I guess from psychological point of view this makes it feel easier to cope with things like plot, building up characters, storylines, subplots etc. The first part is finished, all I need to do is a final edit and I’m happy with it. I’m working on the second part at the moment, which is why I’ve been somewhat absent from posting on my blog. I have a rough idea of the third part, though at the moment it is just a collection of notes and ideas.
I posted an excerpt (7,000 words) on YouWriteOn, a website where writers provide feedback to other members and in turn receive feedback on their own projects. It’s not a bad website, very poor layout and design, but the members are enthusiastic and honest in their appraisals. I was hesitant to submit my work for a number of reasons:
1) Would someone steal it? I’m of the opinion that people who steal others folks hard work should be dragged in the mud behind a horse for a few miles. I don’t like plagiarism one bit, and I can be very vocal on the subject when it rears it’s head.
2) Would the feedback be negative? I welcome constructive criticism so long as the negative and positive comments are well-balanced, have a good argument behind them, offer alternatives and are not solely based on “I don’t like this genre so…” which is always a pointless response.
3) Will readers understand it is JUST an excerpt? If you have an 80,000 novel but can only show someone 7,000 words, their feedback can sometimes be pointless. They have yet to discover why X is happening, or why character Y is behaving in a certain why, because the reason isn’t revealed until much later on. So it’s hard to take some comments seriously where the reader clearly hasn’t realised they are reading a tiny section of the overall story, and trust me, many people on YouWriteOn don’t understand the concept of the excerpt.
Back to the question. Do I take the plunge and set up a website where I can showcase my novels? Should I be worried about someone stealing my work? Or should I just go for it and head into the unknown with a smile on my face?
Online copyright services
Beware of these business who present enticing websites with generic photos of smiling people shaking hands or wearing telephone headsets! Don’t fall into the trap of handing over your money just because the jargon promises you a supposedly iron clad copyright deal. I’m not saying don’t do it, just shop around and ask lots of questions before you click BUY NOW!
There are plenty of copyright services online, and they seem to offer this magical legal certificate that will protect the owner from any copyright issues. After trawling through endless websites it turns out that paying £37 to a copyright protection service website offers the same amount of protection as spending £2 posting your manuscript to yourself.
Here’s a quote from Copyright.co.uk:
the original creation has an automatic right, the copyright, by the mere fact of its existence (if the work is original, the author’s copyright is born on the creation, with no formality).
A quote from Copyrightservice.co.uk
Copyright is an automatic right and arises whenever an individual or company creates a work. To qualify, a work should be regarded as original, and exhibit a degree of labour, skill or judgement.
Interpretation is related to the independent creation rather than the idea behind the creation. For example, your idea for a book would not itself be protected, but the actual content of a book you write would be. In other words, someone else is still entitled to write their own book around the same idea, provided they do not directly copy or adapt yours to do so.
Names, titles, short phrases and colours are not generally considered unique or substantial enough to be covered, but a creation, such as a logo, that combines these elements may be.
In short, work that expresses an idea may be protected, but not the idea behind it.
If you want to find a simple source for copyright law check out this wesbite section:
So at the end of the debate I conclude that yes we should all be vigilant where protecting our creative works are concerned, how far you go to safeguard your intellectual property is up to you. ClassyRose has indeed given me food for thought!
Now I’m into the swing of the PostADay2011 Challenge and lovin’ the RandomBlog2011 Challenge I’ve noticed a few people having probs with adding images into their side bar widgetty area thingy. So I thought why not provide a handy step by step guide that old and new WordPress bloggers can follow.
This guide is nice and simple without being condescending, after all everyone has to start somewhere. The WordPress help files can be pretty decent but often they assume bloggers know certain things and don’t fully explain that all important section between A and B.
There are 11 Steps in this guide involved with adding a media file to your library (images), adding an Image widget to your sidebar and how to get that image to link to someplace you want. This may seem like a long set of instructions but it’s easy to follow. Worry ye not, after you have read this your cup of confidence will be overflowing with…er, confidence!
Let’s get started!
When you have found an image you like, for example the PostADay2011 Challenge badge which you can find here, RIGHT CLICK the image and choose SAVE AS or SAVE IMAGE AS…
A window will open. Find a folder you wish to save the image to, My Documents or wherever you prefer. If you want you can open My Documents and check to see if you have saved it properly.
In your Dashboard look on the left hand side. You should see a menu called MEDIA. Depending on how you have your dashboard settings this may be closed or expanded. Click the MEDIA menu button and then Click ADD NEW.
The MEDIA LIBRARY page will open. At the top next to the page title click Add New.
A new page will open. If you already have images etc that you have placed in your posts these will be listed here. You need to click the SELECT FILES button.
A window will open similar to the one you saw when you saved the image in Step 1. Locate your image by browsing your files and click Open usually found bottom right of the window that is open – Windows Operating System. Don’t ask about Mac’s as I have no idea sorry!
You should see a bar that says: CRUNCHING. This means it’s uploading the image from your PC, it may also compress it to a smaller file size, not really sure about this but it’s not important. Then the page will change and you will see something similar to the picture below, though it will have your image in it and not the strange logo thingy I used!
There are 3 important things here to make a note of.
First. Where it says dimensions, jot them down somewhere. You will need those in a few steps.
Second. Where it says File URL. Put your cursor in that box, Right Click and choose Copy.
Finally: Click Save all changes. The page will return to the Media Library and you should see your uploaded and saved image at the top of the list.
Okay, you’re doing great! Let’s move on. Look on your menus to the left of the page. Again if you might have these expanded or collapsed. Find the menu called Appearance. Expand it if you need to by clicking the grey arrow to the right of it. Then click Widgets once the menu has dropped down.
On the Widgets page you will a main area with all the available widgets and on the right of the page you should see menus with a title at the top called Sidebar1. In the main section look for a widget called Image. Click the Image widget in the main section, hold it then drag it over to the Sidebar1 menu.
A box with a dotted edge should appear when you have it in place. Release the mouse button to drop it in to place. It doesn’t matter where for the moment so long as it drops neatly into that Sidebar1 menu.
You’re nearly done! Just a few more steps to go!
The Image widget you just dragged across to Sidebar1 will open up. This is where you can fill in the details for that image.
Few things to do here.
Widget title: Don’t add anything here as this will just place a title above your widget and it’s not normally important to do so if your image is self-explanatory.
Image URL: Remember in Step 7 when I said to right click and copy that Image URL after you uploaded your image? Now right click in the box under Image URL in the widget box and click Paste. This will put the location of your uploaded image. As you can see from the picture below I have the PostADay Badge in mine.
Alternative Text: This is for people who choose not to view images in their internet browser, so they can at least see a description. For the PostADay badge you can add “I’m part of Post a Day 2011″ but depending on what your image is, choose a suitable short description.
Image Title: This is something that will appear when someone hovers their cursor over the image. I tend to use the same thing as Alternative text.
Caption: Unless you really want to add more info leave this blank. This adds text under the image.
Image Alignment: Leave it as None.
Width: Okay, remember in Step 7 when I said to jot down the dimensions of your uploaded image? Well here you can add them into Width and Height. Often people forget to do this and end up with stretched or blurred images, this bit helps keep your image the right size.
Finally, Link URL: This is where you want people to go if they click the image. As you can see I just added http://dailypost.wordpress.com for the example. You can use any link but it’s good practice to keep the link relevant to the image.
You should see a circle appear next to the blue Save button when you click it. After it has vanished you can then click Close. The Image widget box will then shrink back into your Sidebar1 menu.
Now you can look at your blog, click the name of your blog at the top left of the page. Your new image will appear in your sidebar.
If you don’t like the position then return to your Widgets page, click the image widget in Sidebar1, hold it, and drag it up or down the Sidebar1 menu. Boxes with dotted edges will appear and your other widgets will move about as you move the Image widget around. Then as before release the mouse button once you have found a more suitable place for it.
That’s All Folks!
And that’s it. All done, I hope! You can add other images to your Sidebars or Footer/Header bars if you like, just follow the steps. I hope I haven’t missed anything out but do let me know if something is missing or if you have any problems. I’m happy to help if you get stuck.
I started this blog with the aim of providing my creative side an alternative to that of writing fiction. I wanted to write about the world around me and express my opinions on any subject that held my interest. Writers block is an alien world to me as I have never struggled for ideas or how to arrange them in a coherent fashion, yet the more I learn about blogging the more I pause for thought on how I conduct myself.
With fiction I let my brain tell my hands what to do and the words flow. I can always edit after so I don’t worry too much about what I write. My Dad always told me: “Get it down first, write it all, everything and anything you want, and worry about editing later.” You can correct blog posts but it makes sense to get things as well laid out as possible before clicking the Publish button.
So after publishing a few “test the water” posts on Noobcake I looked to see what other people in blogland had to say. Previously I was wrapped up in my own bubble, only really concerned with my own voice regardless of whether anyone heard it or not. Recently I joined the PostADay2011 Challenge and my interest in other blogs began to soar. Then I came across an interesting blog titled Things In Life I Find Annoying – Or Not, where the author, Classy Rose, encourages bloggers taking part in the WordPress Challenge to read 2 new blogs every day from Feb 14 – 20 2011. More specifically blogs they have never visited.
Interesting idea I thought, I’ll give that a go and see where it leads me. But before I go into that I thought I’d help the cause. I have created 2 badges for the RandomBlog2011 Challenge that people can use on their blogs similar to the PostADay2011 Challenge. Instructions on how to use these badges on your blog can be found on PostADay2011 Challenge.