Copyright Infringement and Intellectual Property: Is it Borrowing or Stealing?

Listen up bloggers because this is a pretty serious issue and not one that I ever thought I would run into.  When I first joined the blogging community, I was amazed at how other bloggers reached out to me.  Taught me.  Mentored me.  And were genuinely interested in helping me grow.  I felt like the new kid at school who had just found where she truly belonged and let me tell you, it was the best feeling in the world.  I, as many other bloggers do, poured my heart and soul into my work.  I spent hours photographing and creating and writing.  And every moment of it was worth it because it was a labor of love.

It was not (and still is not) unusual for me to stay up late at night perfecting pictures and re-working my content.  Yes, I sacrificed family time.  Yes, I gave up sleep.  But I was putting every effort into doing what I loved.  And as I saw other bloggers create amazing content that inspired me every day, I was honored to be part of such a creative community that left me in awe of their skills and abilities.  And I loved that we gained inspiration from each other and pushed ourselves to new creative levels based on the expertise of others.

But what we did not do was steal.

Now, before we move any further into this conversation, we need to take a deeper look at what stealing is.  Stealing is not using someone’s content with their permission and while linking back to them.  Stealing is not putting together a compilation post where you have gained permission to use the ideas of others and have credited them for their work and time.  Stealing is not purchasing stock images and and using them with the transparency that they are not our own images.  Stealing is not helping to promote fellow bloggers within the community.  Many of us join together to share each other’s amazing ideas with our fans.  This is beneficial for the other bloggers because it gives them exposure to a new fan base.  It is beneficial for our readers because it gives them access to information the may not have found otherwise.  This is not stealing.

So, what is stealing then.  Well, I’ve been doing a little research.    And while there are most definitely loopholes and content that is exempt from this, for  the most part a blogger’s work is copyright protected.


Copyright is a bundle of individual rights that protect authors’ ownership of intellectual property. Web content, including blogs, is protected under copyright law. So just as copying the content out of a printed book and passing it off as one’s own would be considered copyright infringement, so would copying a blog post and pasting it onto another blog.
~ From

But let’s not stop there!  Because what about the pictures that accompany posts?  They are out there on the Internet for all to see so what’s the harm in grabbing one right?   WRONG!

Like other creative works, photographs are protected by the intellectual property law called copyright from the moment they are taken.   ~Credit:  Legal Zoom

And let me just take it one step further to really drive the point home.

When you write a blog post, you instantly create a copyrighted work. According to the U.S. Copyright Office, your original work receives copyright protection “the moment it is created and fixed in a tangible form that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.” In other words—you wrote it, you own it. This also applies to photographs and images—once a photograph that you took or image you created is fixed in a tangible medium, the copyright is yours instantly—no registration necessary, and no little © required.          ~Credit:  Legal Zoom

I honestly don’t know how it can get much clearer than that peeps.  If you don’t write it and don’t shoot it, don’t steal it!  That’s about as simply as I can put it.

Now, I do have to mention here that some items are not subject to copyright laws.  Recipes are a grey area.  The ingredients are not subject to copyright but the actual step by step instructions can be.  So if you’re making your own version of a recipe you better be sure to put it in your words how it was made.  And it’s always in good taste to link back to the original source.  Commonly known information is also not subject to copyright – for example, measurement and sizing charts.  But again, as in my original point, original thoughts (which are the bread and butter of blogging) are indeed, in fact, undeniably PROTECTED!

So, let’s put the question to rest.  I’ve heard many, many times that if someone puts it out there on the internet, it’s up for grabs.  Nope.  No way.  Not a chance.  The moment that original content is published on a blog it is protected meaning admire it all you want, ask the writer if you can link back to it, use pieces of it or just share it with you readers, but DO NOT STEAL IT!

Let’s go back to being a community that encourages each other to dream, create and succeed instead of one who tries to profit off the creativity of others.  I work hard for my content – sometimes it’s great and sometimes it’s not – but it is undeniably mine.  Just as what you come up with in that pretty little head of your belongs to you.  So let’s celebrate each other’s strengths, become a community that once again thrives from the growth of each other and stop with the stealing.  Because until we do that, until we no longer have to be fearful that our ideas will no longer be our own, we’re simply individuals working to one up each other instead of what we really can be – a group of powerful, talented writers who have all the ability to make the virtual world our creative playground.

**Disclosure:  I am not a lawyer and am not offering legal advice on copyright and intellectual property law.  I have researched the above material and interpreted it to the best of my ability.  Your interpretation may differ from mine.**


  1. says

    Great post, Jeannette!

    It is hard to know exactly what the law is in some of those gray areas, but stealing and/or taking credit for someone else’s work is obviously not ok.

    We’ve all made mistakes and many of us are still learning, so this is a great post to help everyone who might be unsure.

  2. says

    Great article, you did a fabulous job putting it all together! There’s been way too much stealing going on lately! I think some people are just new and don’t know any better, but others definitely know better and do it anyway. Either way maybe this will help make it clear to some.

  3. says

    Your timing for this couldn’t have been more perfect and you explained it so perfectly. The stealing of content has been so out of control lately. Some of it due to newbie mistakes, but I am shocked by how many seasoned bloggers think it is okay to just take and not give credit where credit is due.
    Angela recently posted..Downton Abbey and Apricot Scones RecipeMy Profile

  4. says

    Thanks so much for bringing attention to copyright issues facing bloggers. We especially like the fine (and correct) distinction you made about copyright related to recipes. More and more bloggers will face this as the technology to detect instances of copyright infringement get better and DCMA takedowns become more common place. We need more articles like yours to help bring this home.

  5. says

    Thanks for spending so much time to research and share this. It’s so important for all people (both bloggers and non-bloggers) to understand and respect copyright. It’s not just something about law, it is about respect.

  6. says

    I LOVE this article! And I love your quotes! You flow right through it and you hit it right on the nail! I love supporting my fellow bloggers and I love helping with compilation posts. But I do not like when my content is stolen without my permission. No one does. It’s wrong. And it needs to stop. You are brilliant for writing this and definitely something that comes up far too often lately and it is really sad.
    Amber Edwards recently posted..Ladies Day In Party Ideas, and Tea Party Planning with Kleenex® and #SharetheSoftMy Profile

  7. Aimee J says

    I’ve always thought it was pretty self explanatory. If you don’t write something, don’t say you did. If you don’t create something from scratch (a craft project, a recipe, even a printable) DON’T say you did. Yep. Pretty simple. Too bad there are so many morally bankrupt people out there that don’t care one way or the other. Great post.

  8. Debbie Bashford says

    Many years ago I asked someone to stop posting my watermarked graphics, they told me to get bent. Trying to pursue a way to stop them was mind boggling. I finally just relegated myself to the fact that people would use them as I had put them on line, but at least they had my watermark. Hope the laws have changed and made it easier.

  9. says

    I love this! Thank you for writing it! After getting slammed by Sassy Mama in LA for using a stock photo in one of my posts, I have been on pins and needles trying to avoid drama with bloggers that think they know everything. This post is exactly what I needed to see this morning. :)
    Sadie recently posted..How to Become a Virtual AssistantMy Profile

  10. Pam says

    Based on your post and the responses, I assume that there is a lot of stealing going on. I hope that your post serves as a reminder to those who need a little reminding.

  11. Kayleen Considine says

    Great article, thank you!! I’m seriously considering starting a blog and it will really help me.


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