If you like then you should’a write blog on it, that’s not how the song goes, but I guess you get the drift. Today, blogging hasn’t just become a hobby but also a profession. There are so many amateur bloggers that have become professionals within a few years and some have even acquired celebrity status. Though it is the ‘everything free to download is legal’ attitude is what lands bloggers in trouble. If you have been thinking of starting a blog or you already have one, these tips to ensure an IPR friendly blog might come in handy.

Copyrights: Writing a blog is a tough job, especially for people who are just starting off and it is but natural that you would be going through the articles of others, at times we just invariably press the Control C and V to your article. This my friend, is not only copyright infringement but also plagiarism; where you are passing off someone else’s work as your own. The excuse of ‘no one reads my blog’ cannot help you in anyway, as the copyright law states that publishing a work would mean making something available to people. Hence while writing your blog, make sure to write in your own words as much as possible, or give due credit to the owner of the work you took help or quoted from. This same applies when you are quoting songs, or passages from a book. For you may think that it is obvious to the readers that it is not your own words, but still, a clear mention maybe as an endnote would be ideal.

Using images on your blog:  It is the oldest trick in the blog book that using an image in a blog, makes it more interesting. With images so easily downloadable online, we do not think twice before saving an image from Google and uploading it to our blog. What we forget to see, is the usage rights to the image. Photographic works are also subject to the laws of copyright, and using an image without the due permission from the holder is an infringement in itself. The same applies to the very popular ‘Gifs’ or graphic interchange formats, where debate of it being a copyright infringement is still going on.

How to use images online: There are still many websites that allow people to save and use images from the website, these images are labeled ‘free to use’. Websites such as creative commons, and Wikimedia commons also provide images, though one must to give the owner of the image due credits. A simple “image from here” with the link to the original source would suffice. While in google, one can modify the search to allow, only images that are labeled for reuse to be displayed.

Trademarks: The most important trademark infringement might happen with name of the blog itself, the need for a catchy name makes us go towards the popular phrases, maybe from a song, a movie or a book. The main violation would be being the use of a name or phrase that has been trademarked. For example, ‘Lonely Planet’ or ‘Finger licking good’, though awesome names for a travel and a food blog, but would be infringement of ‘Lonely Planet’s ‘and KFC’s trademark. Also using brand logo’s in your blog may also land you in trouble. Especially if it is used to indicate a nonexistent affiliation to the brand.

Originality is the key: Above were a few instances that could lead to your blog infringing the Intellectual Property Rights. Though the fear of infringe must not stop anybody from writing what they like. The easiest, surest and best way would be to keep the blog as original as possible, a blog is a reflection of yourself, your thoughts and ideas, let it be your words that speak. With respect to images, why not try uploading photos that you take. They might not be as ‘professional’ or breathtaking as the one from Google, but they will help you tell your story, and make it truly personal. If you take your blog seriously and with love and respect, you will automatically start respecting the Intellectual Property Rights of others. Having a copyright to your own writings and photographs, however amateur they may be being much better than infringing someone else’s to make your blog look good.

I come clear here by saying that the 1st line of the article is from a Beyoncé song, and the image is from here.

This article has been authored by Shwetha, an IP Law practitioner.