As much as I might say otherwise, I’ve come to the conclusion that I have a generally optimistic view of the world and of cyberspace. I’ve been fortunate not to have encountered many of the problems that plague so many people who do business on the web. Writers/bloggers are especially at risk when it comes to putting themselves and their products out there, and often times, we don’t realize we’re only a click away from financial or professional disaster.
I came upon two stories this week that have not only made me cringe in sympathy for the authors involved, but also made me reconsider how I do things on the web.
The first is this story concerning an author and blogger who ran afoul of an unscrupulous review site.
Apparently after she submitted her book for review, the site informed her there would be a charge. Because she blogged about this practice, the review site owners it seems, threatened legal action and insinuated that they might engage in some retaliatory practices. Thankfully, sometimes the web can be a small place and word of their behavior has gotten around.
As a cautionary tale for authors, this reinforces the notion that we should all learn our rights as well as the rights of others with regards to what we can and can’t say on line. Just because someone threatens legal action doesn’t mean they necessarily have a leg to stand on…but in some cases they do, which brings me to this story about an author who received a takedown notice for a photo she used on her blog.
Despite her immediate compliance with the request, she was sued for damages by the photographer. As much as I want to side with and defend the author who innocently used a picture, considering I have been the victim of numerous pirate sites where my work is uploaded and traded for free with no thought or consideration as to the hard work I put into it, and because those sites are often run outside of the country, I have little legal or financial recourse, I can’t very well come down on a graphic artist who’s angry about finding his own work used without his permission.
Lessons I’ve learned this week [and thankfully this was the easy way, through the experiences of others] are:
1) Learn your rights and know the definition of words like defamation, libel and infringement. Lots of people threaten to take legal action and often times it’s an empty threat, but
2) be aware of when the threat might be legitimate and take steps to protect yourself.
What lessons have you learned from life on the web?