First, I’d like to say thank you to Kerry Gorgone for writing this article about curated content versus fair use. I’ll just quote a little piece of it, not because it stinks, but because it’s awesome!

“Content curation” is a powerful tool for marketing. By sharing someone else’s relevant, helpful content, you prove to your audience that you care about helping them—not just boosting your own site traffic.

But when does “curation” turn into copyright infringement? Too often, people will copy/paste an entire article onto their own site, then become indignant when the original author asks them to take it down.

Can you imagine? Dreadful.

There is no specific amount of someone else’s copyrighted work that you can always legally use. There are many “copyright urban legends” asserting things like “you can use 30 seconds of any movie without worrying” or “you can use 10 seconds of any song before you have to worry about copyright.” There simply is no magic number in a regulation somewhere.

For text, there is no set percentage of a work you can use without permission: whether the use is “fair” (and therefore legal) depends on the nature of the use and the specific facts of each case.

Bottom line, you can’t know at the outset whether your use of someone else’s copyrighted work constitutes “fair use” in the eyes of the law.

So, as usual, the answer is it all depends. That’s so very much a lawyer answer! 🙂

Some authors and artists choose to release their work under a Creative Commons license. These licenses allow companies or individuals to use the work, provided people comply with the terms of the license.

Some Creative Commons licenses require only that you give credit to the author. Others are more restrictive, specifying “no commercial use” or “no derivative works” (new works based on the original).

One caveat: you can’t be sure that the person who uploaded the “Creative Commons” photo and chose the license actually owns it! So, once again, taking your own pictures and creating your own visuals is the safest option.

So … was the guy who put this up on Creative Commons violating someone’s copyright? I’ve been totally unable to use this image on any Zazzle products, due to copyright or trademark or something.


For that matter, am I violating a copyright now? 🙂

Me and a Tardis-like thing I found in Scotland.

Me and a Tardis-like thing I found in Scotland.

PS: If you’d like to read some more awesome curated content, check out Mal Warwick’s blog post about which countries read the most.


PPS: Apparently, maddiebw is allowed to post this scene on her YouTube channel. But, for some reason, when I put up that scene, YouTube shut my movie channel down for “repeated copyright violations.” And that was my only violation. Oh, well. Guess some YouTubers are more equal than others! 🙂

But you know what I say … never argue with an algorithm!


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