Congratulations! You are now a publisher…

Dear Fellow Blogger:

In case you didn’t realize it, now that you have a blog (or a website, but specifically a blog) you are a PUBLISHER. That’s right! When you put words in a post for all your buddies (or whoever wanders by) to read, you have published. It’s true! Yes indeedy!

So, when you put something in your blog that doesn’t belong to you — whether that’s a news article, a story or a poem — you are publishing that work without the author’s permission. You see, blogging isn’t sending emails to your friends (which, if it had a story or poem that wasn’t yours, would also be a copyright violation, but in a different format). I’m sure it’s all very confusing: you see something posted on a website and because you can see it for free, well, it must be free! How neat! How generous! Gee willy!

But it’s not. If it’s posted on someone else’s website, it either belongs to the owner of the website or the owner of the website has PURCHASED permission from the author to post the article, story or poem on the website.

IT’S NOT OKAY TO COPY AND PASTE THE MATERIAL INTO YOUR BLOG.

Because you’re a publisher, and you have to follow all the laws that book, newspaper and magazine publishers have to follow. It’s easy to publish electronically, sure, but that doesn’t change the law.

But I’m sure you have lots of original things to say in your blog and you won’t need to copy a 5,000-word short story you found on someone else’s website into your blog, right? If you like the story, you can post a link to it with the title, and maybe the first sentence or two to entice your friends to follow the link. That sort of thing is okay. The author of the piece would probably be very flattered and happy — much more flattered and far happier than if they stumbled across their work copied and pasted into your blog without them being paid for it…

That makes authors…well…cross. Really, really cross. And it can get you in all sorts of trouble with your ISP or whoever it is who provides space on their server for your blog.

Authors like me would be especially happy since it takes hours of our time to contact all these people who do this. Hours of time badly needed to be spent on moving out of the U.S. next week — oy!

So, once again, congratulations on your new status in the world. And I hope your knuckles won’t hurt too badly from the ruler snapping against them.

Thank you.

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