Thursday, May 8, 2014

Copyright: The Violations, Protections, and Knowledge.

You-the average American citizen-violate copyright laws almost every time you access the Internet. You are thinking, “No I don’t, you are insane!” You may not believe it but it’s true. One simple copyright right law people break all the time is plagiarism. For example, do you copy and paste pictures, words, or videos? If you do this and do not properly cite your work or ask the publisher/author if it is alright that you use their work, then you are violating copyright laws. However, if the work you’re trying to copy will not allow you to take it, the owner has probably protected it so that you are not able to acquire the work. I believe authors are sufficiently protecting their work from copyright violators by using several techniques such as digital watermarks, encryptions, or just basically making the viewer buy it before seeing or taking it.

Before I start with anything else, you may not be quite sure what copyright laws are. Many people think copyright is a verb, such as someone saying, “Oh, you just copyrighted that picture.” This is not how copyright should be used. “Copyright is the right for any owner of their original work to allow or not allow anyone else to copy or use their work without permission.” The terms under whether you are violating copyright laws are very simple, you have to ask yourself these questions. Are you only using a small amount of someones work, did you add new meaning to it, is it for nonprofit purposes, and did you use it in a different way? Also, the reason you used the work has to fall under education, criticism, commentary, comedy, parody, or for news reporting. These are the guidelines you must follow in order to use their work without permission. But these are just the logistics of what you’re doing wrong, so we will go into depth on what people are doing right.

How do owners protect their creative work. One example is a watermark (see picture.) You are probably wondering, “what is a watermark, is that the thing that happens when you spill some water on a piece of paper and it disfigures the paper? “Digital watermark is a faint emblem on the creative work that symbolizes the company or person who made it.” You can easily put a watermark on your work through a writing document system like Word or Google Documents. The watermark usually makes the work undesirable because you could not remove the watermark, so the creative work would be imperfect. I believe the watermark is a very useful method in protecting ones work. Now there are other options too.
Even though the watermark option is difficult, it could be useful, but also very complicated for people who do not understand computers. You could use digital encryptions on your creative work so that whenever any copyright violators try to copy and paste it will not allow them to. The encryption would enable them from using copy/paste, or uploading it in any way. Some encryptions, when tampered with, created a virus that is immediately sent out into the copyright violator’s computer. The technique is more complicated to put on your work and you would have to apply it correctly. However, some copyright violators will stop at nothing to get you work so if they are smart enough they can hack through the encryptions you have put on your work. There are even websites on how to decrypt someones encryptions. Given that it would take a lot of time, but your encryptions can be broken. If digital watermarks and encryptions seem to complicated to you, you could always try other options that are less mind boggling such as the technique is just to basically set up a payment system where for the user to even see your creative work they must pay.For an example click here. If they do not pay, they can just simply not see your photo. This way it is harder for a copyright violator to work around and hack it.

Although people will always violate copyright laws, at least you have been educated in the ways of copyright. Now you know what copyright laws are, how you violate those copyright laws, and at any time in the future, you want to protect your creative work, you will have a few ideas to start you off. Keep in mind that some eager people will always try to decrypt you encryptions and/or go out of their way to slowly photoshop your watermark out of your creative work. At least there will be one less person in the world who will unknowingly violate copyright laws. There will be one less person every time someone reads this article. I am glad that you, the reader, have more knowledge in the ways of digital citizenship.



  1. Honoring copyright is definitely an important part of digital citizenship, Mj. An additional tool for protecting creative works against copyright theft is offered by Google. While Google doesn't guarantee removal of links to sites that have violated copyright, they do take action and publish data on how many requests they have received and what percentage have been deleted/retained. Last month the search service received over 25 million URL requests! Thank you for posting. --Ms. Riches

  2. Very interesting information. I learned a lot from this post. Great links to useful information for writers!

  3. Nicely written in terms of defining what copyright is, giving specifics examples of what copyright infringement looks like, how to enforce it, and when it is acceptable (with citations, of course).

    One suggestion for improvement is to see if you can rewrite the piece without addressing the audience directly as 'you'. The danger in addressing the audience in this fashion is that you make assumptions about the reader, which may not be true. Therefore, the reader becomes less interested in what you have to say because they feel attacked.

  4. Thanks for the informative post: I didn't realize that Google docs had a watermark option and will have to check it out! This would be a great place to mention that the creator of a work is the one who gets to decide how their work is used, and can grant that access with Creative Commons licensing.

  5. Hi Mj! This is a great blog about what copyright is and how to protect our own creative work. Laws for copyright are always confusing, but the ways that you provided are really going to help us when we need to protect our own work. Thanks a lot for that! I think that the reason why the laws about copyright are always confusing is that there are so many chances for people to violate the copyright laws without noticing it. A lot of people might think that as long as you site the sources then they would be fine, but it actually has more restrictions than that. I think it's really important for students to know how the copyright works, and the schools have done a good job on that. We are always required to site our sources when we have to do a research. I've learned a lot from your article. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Hi Mj! Your blog has really interesting information! I especially like how you talked about watermarks, what they are, and how they help to prevent plagiarism and copyright overall. I myself have seen many pictures with watermarks in the background, however I have never been aware of what they are. It's surprising to me that the pictures I, along with many people find annoying, actually serve an important purpose. Do all pictures which have been watermarked have print within the image or can a picture be watermarked without any physical indication? Thanks, Indika


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