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There’s been a bit of debate elsewhere about what you can and can’t so with material you find on the net. There is a completely erroneous assumption that everything you find on the net is fair game to be reproduced in part or in its entirety, free of charge and without permission.
Just to be clear – what is free for you to read is not free for you to reproduce elsewhere. Copyright exists as soon as someone publishes an original work. They don’t have to register it – it exists by default. You can find a detailed explanation of copyright law HERE. I suggest you skip the top bit and scroll down to “Fair Dealing”.
The reality, however, is that you can quote a couple of lines of most things here and there and no one will notice (but pity help you if you publish, without permission, lines from a song or poem that has commercial value).
There is a copyright sharing system called creative commons which allows people to use others’ work in a variety of ways (although rarely for commercial purposes).
There is also the matter of “moral rights” which can occur when someone uses another person’s work in a way they find offensive. For instance, if someone was to take material that I have written and published and used it as part of a campaign against tenants, I would come down on them very hard indeed.
FYI: I usually send offenders who have breached my copyright or moral rights an email telling them to take the material down and a bill for my services if they choose not to. On the question of moral rights, I have had people lift my work wholesale and post it so that they can attack my opinions without me even knowing I had been set up. The “take down or pay” tactic invariable works.
However, we all cross the line at some point. I frequently quote chunks of the Strata Act which is strictlly speaking copyright but, hey, we paid for it and it is helping to make people more aware.
But if you go to a strata manager’s website, for instance, and lift whole chunks of their blog and post it as if it’s your own, then it is basically theft. The own that material and unless there is something there to say you can cut and paste it wherever you like, you have to respect their copyright.
The best way to do this is to refer to the views expressed and post a link to the website it came from. That’s the civilised way to do this and it means everyone gets the credit (and blame) they deserve.
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