Protektado ka ba? Copyright on the cyberspace
Insulted and violated – that’s how I felt upon knowing early last month that another blogger copied word-for-word without permission one of my blog entries which deals with cyberbullying. The blogger mentioned my blog The Filipino Scribe toward the end of the post, but it’s not sufficient clear that it is the original source of the material.
I contacted the blogger, and he merely said "Ok...sorry about that" in response to my email demanding that he delete the plagiarized entry. There's no attempt to explain whatsoever, and there's no sign of contrition. Nevertheless, to his credit, he took down the post I am complaining about on the same day.
Some people think that intellectual property protection and copyright are too complex for them to understand, given all the legalistic discussions surrounding it. Copyright infringement happens all the time. We most likely know someone (if we’re not guilty of it ourselves) of purchasing pirated movies from areas like Baclaran, Cubao, and Quiapo.
Most teenagers are probably not aware that they too are committing this serious offense when they download all tracks in Justin Bieber’s latest album from sites like 4Shared.com. And by the way, do you have a legal copy of Microsoft Word in your computer? Even bloggers are guilty of this too, occasionally.
Some actions like using others’ photos or drawings without seeking permission first is one. So is copying others’ blog entry word-for-word or perhaps significant portions of it without any attribution a la Tito Sotto. Other cases of copyright infringement aren’t as clear cut.
When you copy someone else’s blog in its entirety and post it on your site but with attribution, it isn’t copyright infringement yet. Using excerpts is acceptable, but reporting an entire item is not right. Google, for instance, punishes bloggers who post duplicate content. Ergo, offending blogs does not only siphon web traffic away from your site. It also endangers your PageRank.
Copyright protection is important for individuals to make sure that they benefit from the effort they exerted for their work. It will be wrong to say that a person who asserts his or her copyright over his or her work is only after the money. Intellectual property rights will always be more than just about getting financial compensation.
Respecting others’ copyright is also about humility. In many ways, respecting copyright is as simple as being humble enough to recognize that others helped you develop your outputs, directly or indirectly.
As a blogger, you have to recognize how others’ ideas helped you formulate your own. Somehow, Confucius’ golden rule can be used as a good code of conduct re copyright protection on the blogosphere. How will you feel if others use your work without any acknowledgment?
Copyright owners (a term which, upon cursory view, can actually refer to all of us) have to forcefully assert their rights. This can be started by being vigilant (e.g. Google keywords you used in your blog to monitor duplicate content). When you see come across an offender, try to call his/her attention first. If this fails, you can always call the attention of Google. This is not a one-way process, of course. Bloggers has to develop a culture where respecting copyright is the norm.
In my two years as a blogger, I may have been guilty at one point or another of copyright transgressions. Nevertheless, since I am now more aware of the law, I try my best to be as careful as possible. Bloggers want to be treated at par with writers in more traditional forms. How can they command respect when they can’t even follow something as basic as respecting copyright?
About the author: Mark Pere Madrona has contributed feature stories for ABS-CBNNews.com, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Vera Files, and Yahoo News Philippines. His blog The Filipino Scribe won the Best Text Blog award in the 7th Annual PopDev Media Awards. He earned his Journalism degree from UP Diliman cum laude in 2010. He is also taking his Masters in History from the same university.