I find myself strangely unsettled by the news that the February edition of Writing Magazine has a feature on copyright. Being new to the blogosphere this information has brought an issue that I’ve previously paid scant attention to closer to the front of my mind. I find that I have questions like, what if someone uses my ideas for their own? And, can I send a piece of writing published on my blog to competitions as new work? Both of these questions are easily answered. Intellectually one is aware that no-one has ‘dibs’ on an idea. A friend who writes and blogs advises me that most competitions are likely to state whether they will or will not accept blogged work. My mother would say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery; yet I would be bloody furious if someone used my work without acknowledging me.
There are four types of intellectual property, designs, trademarks, patents and copyright and according to http://www.ipo.gov.uk/copy.htm (retrieved January 2012): ‘Copyright protects written, theatrical, musical and artistic works as well as film, book layouts, sound recordings, and broadcasts. Copyright is an automatic right, which means you don’t have to apply for it’. So part of me says, that’s all right then, it’s mine and because it’s on my blog with a publication date no-one else can claim it as theirs.
One might question whether there are people who would be bothered to steal someone else’s work. This might be thought a naive comment with the obvious response ‘yes there are’, but it’s something that a thinking person must ponder rather than dismiss. If someone were so desperate for ideas that they needed mine, well, I’d be inclined to say: carry on. Good luck to you, you poor misguided soul. It’s like the inventive and creative thief who spends aeons planning a complex robbery. Why not use such talent to do something more positive like start your own business or, in the case of writing, get your own thoughts down on paper?
More importantly, perhaps, what is to be done if we discover that someone has reproduced our work as their own? The short answer is that we are protected by the law in the UK and by international laws. The area is complex and interesting and writers can do no better than to read the chapter devoted to copyright in the esteemed Writers’ and Artist’s Yearbook. However, even though we know that we are protected by the law how many of us would have the wherewithal to chase a culprit though the courts? In my experience few individuals are keen to face a bill of thousands and the accompanying angst that such procedures entail.
For now I shall look forward to the February edition of Writing Magazine to learn more – I shall keep on blogging, I like following other bloggers and seeing how their work is progressing. I like the discipline of it and the feedback that other bloggers are happy and generous enough to give.
There is much food for thought in the blogosphere.
Polly Robinson © 2012