. . . is no excuse, or so the saying goes, and it is true, at least when it comes to copyright.
Much has been written in the blogosphere lately about copyright; specifically, how it concerns posting materials online if you didn't create them yourself. As writers, of course, our work is protected by copyright law, and that is sometimes how we view it: copyright law is something to protect others from stealing our work. Naturally, we would never want to steal someone else's work either, but the ease with which we can all now share images and text online can make it entirely too easy to do exactly that, even if we never intended to do so.
So today I thought I would jump into the conversation. Please note that I am not a copyright lawyer. This post is not a comprehensive discussion of copyright law, and is not to be construed as legal advice. I simply want to provide you with some resources to enable you to do your own research. If you take away only one thing from this post, let it be this: If you are in any doubt whatsoever that what you are about to post online is legal under copyright law, DO NOT POST IT. Period.
What is Copyright?
According to the US Copyright Office, "copyright" is
. . . a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States for original works of authorship, including literary, dramatic, musical, architectural, cartographic, choreographic, pantomimic, pictorial, graphic, sculptural, and audiovisual creations. "Copyright” literally means the right to copy. The term has come to mean that body of exclusive rights granted by law to authors for protection of their work. The owner of copyright has the exclusive right to reproduce, distribute, and, in the case of certain works, publicly perform or display the work; to prepare derivative works; in the case of sound recordings, to perform the work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission; or to license others to engage in the same acts under specific terms and conditions.
Simply put, if you did not create the work, you do not have the right to copy it--in paper, digital or any other form--unless you have been specifically granted such right by the copyright owner, the copyright owner has specifically released the work to the public domain or to the Creative Commons (read the small print first!), or the copyright has expired. There are some exceptions, most notably the Fair Use Doctrine, but that probably doesn't mean what you think it means. More on that below.
A nice introduction to US copyright law can be found here: http://www.templetons.com/brad/copyright.html. A quick "dos and don'ts" post is available at http://www.dailyblogtips.com/copyright-law-12-dos-and-donts/.
The US Copyright Office also has a great website, at www.copyright.gov. Given that the focus of my posts is usually on England, I feel I should provide a link to the equivalent authority in the UK, which can be found at http://www.copyrightservice.co.uk. The Templetons post noted above has links to Australian and Canadian copyright information.
Consequences of Copyright Infringement
According to the US Copyright Office, copyright infringement occurs "when a copyrighted work is reproduced, distributed, performed, publicly displayed, or made into a derivative work without the permission of the copyright owner." In the United States, copyright law is primarily civil in nature, so generally speaking, you cannot go to jail for posting something on the internet (although there are some exceptions). However, if you are sued by the copyright owner, the costs can be steep, even if you ultimately prevail. Here are some personal experiences of those who have encountered this problem:
Most of you are probably familiar with the term "fair use," which allows for some use of copyrighted material without express permission. It is a narrower exception than you might think. Section 107 of Title 17 of the U.S. Code provides that "the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright." The statute then sets out four factors to be considered when determining whether something is fair use or not, which you can read by clicking on Section 107 above.
It is important to remember that you cannot confirm when you use something whether it is fair use or not. Fair use is a possible defense to an allegation of copyright infringement, and although some lawyers contend that it is a broader right, the fact remains that only a court can decide if a particular activity qualifies as fair use. If you have to get to that point, you have probably already spent more money than that cute pic on your blog was worth.
This post is merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this issue, and given the rapidity of developments in information exchange in this crazy world of ours, anything I write could very well be out of date by tomorrow anyway. I will leave you with a simple admonishment to be careful about what you post. Your blog posts may not be as pretty, but you won't get sued either, at least not for copyright infringement. (You can be sued for what you write as well, but that is a topic for another post.)
And now I will leave the world of law to go back to Victorian England, where my 15 minutes a day pledge seems to be paying off.
Until next time,
. . . is no excuse, or so the saying goes, and it is true, at least when it comes to copyright.
KILTED MUSE Contest
At Celtic Hearts Romance Writers, our muses wear nothing but kilts. To celebrate that and promote membership in the international organization for Celtic Romance writers, we're holding a contest for the most creative Kilted Muse in 2012.
Show us the most creative way to display or wear your Kilted Muse paraphernalia. Take a photo of your Kilted Muse t-shirt or button, kilt, or Celtic items, or all of the above, and send it to us during the contest period. Judges will pick the most creative photo and the Grand Prize will be a Kindle Fire. Additional prizes will include exclusive Kilted Muse products.
Additionally, one lucky Celtic Hearts member will win a free membership for 2013 for promoting the contest the most in his/her blog and Twitter account! Use the hashtag #KiltedMuse and spread the word. We will be watching!
RULES for the contest:
* No purchase necessary. You don't have to own a shirt or button. Although we're pretty sure you'll want your own anyway. Just show up at RWA Nationals in Anaheim and find someone with a t-shirt or button. Or take your pictures with your very own kilted muse or Celtic items. All "Kilted Muse" pictures must include a kilt, a Celtic Romance novel, or either the Kilted Muse pin or t-shirt. (You will also have the opportunity to win one of your own t-shirt or button during the Scavenger Hunt. Rebecca Lynn, our President, will be wearing her shirt and button all over Disneyland the two days before the conference, and many other members will be wearing the shirts and buttons during the conference.)
* Please keep photo entries rated PG-14 or below. No triple X photos, please. :)
* No entries will be accepted before the start date, or after the deadline. Contest entry dates are as follows: July 22 - August 22 for the contest, July 22-28 for the Scavenger hunt, so get your tshirts and buttons today!
* To enter the contest, send your most creative Kilted Muse photo to rlcameron at yahoo dot com or Tweet it with the hashtag #KiltedMuse. You may enter more than once.
The Kilted Muse Scavenger Hunt
During RWA Nationals (starting July 22 and ending July 28), we will have a Kilted Muse Scavenger Hunt that takes place on Twitter and live at Nationals. The rules are as follows.
1. Each day will have a different scavenger hunt prize. Prizes and daily tasks will be tweeted from @beck_a_tron and @chrwriters, and will be circulated on the CHRW06 loop, among other RWA loops, and be available on the Celtic Hearts blog and website. (http://celtichearts.org and http://celtichearts.blogspot.com)
2. Only completed entries will be considered for the final prize. That means the answer / entry / picture must be emailed to rlcameron at yahoo dot com or tweeted with the hashtag #KiltedMuse attached.
3. Anyone may enter, given that they are 18 or older and reside in a state/province in the USA or Canada where contests are legal and they can be mailed their prizes legally, paying whatever taxes are necessary to win said prizes. You do not need to make a purchase to enter, nor do you have to be a member of Celtic Hearts.
4. Celtic Hearts and its board and members are not responsible for lost electronic entries, or "acts of God" that prevent someone from entering.
If you have any questions, please contact our President at rlcameron at yahoo dot com. Don't forget to find your Kilted Muse today!
I have written nothing in a month.
Well, nothing if you don't include this blog, a plethora of Facebook posts and many forms, emails and letters for the day job.
I have ideas percolating inside my head, and plenty of things to say, but I can't seem to get my butt in the chair and WriteWay open long enough to get words on the page. Of course, it's been quite a month. It has included, among other things, starting a diet (hey, I've lost 5 pounds), feeding an addiction to Glee on Netflix, two weeks of 90+ temps in a house without air conditioning, and a car wreck.
Yes, it was a tough month, but these are all just excuses, and I know it. Recently I heard an interview with Nora Ephron on NPR. She said:
"You do get to a certain point in life where you have to realistically, I think, understand that the days are getting shorter, and you can't put things off thinking you'll get to them someday. If you really want to do them, you better do them. There are simply too many people getting sick, and sooner or later you will. So I'm very much a believer in knowing what it is that you love doing so you can do a great deal of it."
It resonated with me, maybe because I had a bitter taste of my own mortality this month, but also because I really do love to write. Yet I have been putting off writing because there is always something more important to be done first, and there will always be time later, right? Well, what if there's not?
So I am making a commitment today to pull up Write or Die for 15 minutes every day. Once I start, I am fairly sure I can manage more than 15 minutes, but if not, that's okay too. I will let you know next time how it's going, but in the meantime, please wish me luck.
What about you? What do you do to get your butt in the chair?
When researching some possibilities for the plants to put in the front yard, I came across many, many references to English gardens. From the tiniest cottage garden to the most elaborate country house landscape, the English have been renowned for centuries for their garden design. Which got me thinking: gardens are marvelous additions to novels. They evoke scents--lush roses, heady lavender, sweet lilac--and vivid color. They feature marvelous little alcoves for a romantic tryst, or a secluded bower for intrigue. They provide a peaceful backdrop for a solitary walk, or a tree for a mischievous heroine to climb. So today I thought I'd take a little walk through the history of English gardens.
Some other resources for medieval gardens include:
McLean, Teresa. Medieval English Gardens (Viking, 1981).
National Geographic story about a 2003 discovery of the remains of an unusual medieval garden at Whittington Castle.
During the Renaissance period, gardens were also enclosed, but they were much more elaborate. In the Tudor era, gardens were heavily influenced by Italianate style. The "knot garden" was developed during this period. Hampton Court Palace has several reconstructed Tudor-era gardens, including a classic knot garden.
The Stuarts, on the other hand, were into French gardens. These often featured a broad avenue flanked by rectangular parterres made of formal low hedges.
If you are interested in learning more about gardens of the Renaissance era, don't bother Googling "Tudor Gardens" or "Renaissance Gardens," as that leads to an astonishing number of urban American apartment complexes and nursing homes, few of which seem to have gardens. Instead, try searching on gardenvisit.com.
Badminton House and landscape garden, Gloucestershire.
From Morris's Country Seats (1880). Source: Wikipedia.
The eighteenth century saw a shift to more natural looking landscapes. Achieving this natural look apparently involved removing everything that was in place (kind of like my yard), and starting from scratch. Every feature, including lakes, was then engineered to look as "natural" as possible.
Lancelot "Capability" Brown was the most sought-after landscape designer of the day. Brown is reputed to have designed over 170 gardens. For a biography of Brown and links to gardens still in existence today, go to http://www.britainexpress.com/History/bio/brown.htm.
Gardens in the Victorian period went a little nuts, with lots of flowers and exotic colors, and formal and informal styles mixed together. There are some wonderful photos at gardenvisit.com, which I am afraid to re-post here, due to copyright issues.
Some general resources on the history of English gardens, in no particular order:
*Great quick resource, and the starting point for this post: http://www.britainexpress.com/History/english-gardens.htm.
*Turner, Tom. Garden Design in the British Isles: History and styles since 1650. (1986?)
*The GardenDesign website has a great bibliography of books on garden design and landscaping history.
*Country Life's website also has a wonderful post featuring links to the best sites for garden history, as well as some wonderful garden and landscape photos from its own archives.
*GoogleBooks has some wonderful free eBooks on English gardens written in the early 20th century.
*The best source I found during this little adventure was GardenVisit.com. Books, articles, photos--pretty much anything you might want to know about the history of gardens.
Finally, if you are a visual learner, check out http://www.gardenvisit.com/history_theory/garden_landscape_design_articles/historic_design_styles for illustrations of garden styles through history.
I hope you've enjoyed strolling through the garden with me. If you have any favorite garden resources, please do share!
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Monday: Food of the Week
Tuesday: Favorite Recipes I
Tuesday: Favorite Recipes II
Wednesday: Foxy Foodies
Thursday: Best Foodie Books
Thursday: Writing Prompt
Friday: Food Network Shows
Friday: Food Shows on TV
Saturday: Foodie Romances
Saturday: Foodie Blogs