Writings and Witterings

Blogging and Copyright



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


9 thoughts on “Blogging and Copyright

  1. I have been wondering about the copyright issue as well. I find it a bit humorous to think anyone would care to pilfer the warped insights housed on my blog 🙂


    • It is quite laughable, can’t wait for the mag 🙂 Thanks for the comment


    • Carrie, you have a great blog – I wasn’t referring to the ‘warped insights housed on my blog’ when I said it was laughable (though the comment itself made me giggle) but to the whole idea of people ‘stealing’ ideas! I’m sure you took it as it was intended, but thought I’d like to clarify. I’m enjoying your work and will visit your blog often 🙂


  2. Sadly, I’ve seen it happen on more than one occasion. Even saw a person once try to pass off well-known British song lyrics as a heartfelt poem of his own writing – I’m guessing assuming that no one would get it, being as it was a bit obscure and he was American himself… I think it’s good to be aware of these issues, certainly. I don’t normally buy that mag, but think I might this time for this very article.

    But, fellow-bloggers, don’t lets do ourselves down – people get envious of writing they admire. It’s a compliment, of sorts. And sadly there are people who would rather put effort into deception than creation. It’s wrong on so many levels, but its out there. I guess, for the ethical writer, it’s striking the balance between being savvy and aware, as opposed to paranoid.

    Bring on the ethical sharing!
    I’m sharing cake…. 🙂


  3. I’m coming over if you’re sharing cake!


  4. It is a dilemma for every writer sadly, I agree with you Polly The article has some good advice in it and I would recommend that any aspiring writer gets hold of a copy.

    In 2004 I wrote a TV script with my friend Liz called “The Classified Gals”. We sent it off to the BBC Drama Unit and got a “thanks but no thanks” a few weeks later. Then six months later a series that was VERY similar to ours was broadcast on the BBC, but with a few differences. We could have argued that the BBC had stolen our ideas, we could have taken it through the court, but what’s the point – and anyway there were enough small differences in it to differentiate from ours. If the BBC had indeed stolen it they had done a very good job of covering their tracks!

    On the other hand as you rightly say Polly ideas are different. I had the idea of the literary festival (or literature festival as it was) way back in 1999 and and mentioned it to one or two people, including at the time to poet Jenny Hope (she reminded me of this when I saw her in town a few days after putting the idea of a literature festival out on Facebook) along the lines of “why doesn’t Worcester have something festival wise for literature, writing and books” – and that was it. It took me 12 years to get off my backside and do something about that idea and if someone who I had mentioned it to had done it instead or someone else altogether had done it – well more fool me for not getting off my backside sooner! To be honest I’m amazed that no-one did it in that time.

    The idea for Be: Magazine was suggested by Martin and was something that I discussed years ago as well but it didn’t come to fruition. Martin was very enthusiastic about it as it is right up his street design wise, and got a team together to work on it. Ruth in the office came up with the name Be: – it was a joint effort between Martin who suggested the idea and Ruth who named it, and then it became a real team project.

    If you have an idea, do something about it. A million, billion or even trillion people can have the same idea/s, but it only takes ONE person to actually carry them out and make them a reality.

    Love the idea of ethical cake sharing….is it fairtrade? I’ll bring the tea and coffee 🙂


  5. Those are some real stories, thank you Lisa. I guess if something is meant to be … you have to get off your arse and do something about it! hehehehe xx


  6. Exactly Polly, no one else will do it for you – only YOU can make your dreams and ideas into a reality 🙂


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