Just because you wrote something and put one of those little C’s at the bottom of the page, and claim the copyright, doesn’t mean that you won’t find challenges in our information age. After all, you might write something, put it on a website or blog somewhere, perhaps an obscure place, or perhaps you may even write something and put it into a paper newsletter that goes out to your Homeowners Association, soccer team, or school. You wrote it first, and you claim copyright, but then someone else finds it, likes it, puts it on the Internet, or incorporates entire paragraphs and phrases into their own writing.
This happens all the time, and it’s happened to me more times than I care to remember. Not long ago I found something that I wrote on someone else’s website, I asked him to take it off. They said they wouldn’t, and that they wrote it. But they didn’t, I did. That concerns me, and it seems rather dishonest and the person definitely had a lack of integrity to claim my work, but since it was something that wasn’t really important to me, I let it go. I’m sure if you are writer, you will run across this particular situation at some time in your career.
Another time, a similar situation occurred, but I was asked to prove that I had written it first, well, how can I prove that if I put it into a newsletter for local community? Well, in fact I did have a copy of that newsletter, so I was going to make a copy and send it to them, but then I thought to myself why bother, they are already dishonest, and why should I pay $.50 to mail it to them, or spend 10 minutes to scan it into the computer, and e-mail it as an attachment. Like that would do any good anyway, they may not take it off their website, and worse, I found that they must have owned multiple websites, or had some type of affiliate marketing program, because when I searched that phrase, I found it all over the place, not one giving me credit for my work.
It seems sometimes it’s like the wild west out there on the Internet, and whereas there are some famous quotes, quips, and things that each of us write from time to time, there are certain things that are unique, that we produce ourselves, and the chances of anyone else producing that same paragraph are next to zero. So I ask, are we getting to a point on the Internet where you can’t claim copyright anymore, and unless you are a large Corporation with a team to go out and enforce this, you are going to have to let it go, or you’ll spend all your time and productivity chasing down Internet content bandits? Indeed I hope you will please consider all this and think on.