On the Internet, no one can hear you scream. Or at least no one cares if you scream about your copyright being violated.

A few months ago I told you about a blogger who’d broken a big story. And then watched in dismay as major news outlets copied his story and failed to give him any credit. It’s becoming harder every day to track what belongs to whom, and while the Internet has done some great things for us it’s largely responsible for that problem.

Do you sense the irony in that statement? It’s not really the Internet that’s responsible for this problem, it’s users. But it’s easier to blame the system than the people who misuse it.

I was having a conversation with a young man the other day. I was going to pretend he was just a random stranger, but since you’ll see his name when I show you the work he’s promoting I can’t really do that; this very smart, very ambitious young man happens to be my son, Mike.

Mike’s in the middle of a photography project, and you’ll see it if you scroll through his blog, here. The conversation I was having with my son was about his obligation to obtain releases from the people he photographs.

From reading this, Mike’s decided that he doesn’t need to obtain those releases. And he may be right. But he may also be wrong.

Who Owns Your Copyrights?

Having some experience with trademarks and copyrights and as I do a bit of IP Consulting, this topic always strikes me. Who owns “your stuff”?

On the Internet, the practical answer (if not the legal one) is “whoever gets their hands on it”. And the question from a business change perspective is whether you’re going to do the work of protecting your rights and copyrights and covering your behind, or just trust the system to leave you getting what you deserve.

Here’s another example: what happens the day this young lady decides she no longer wants this picture of her to be “out there”? Or when the photographer who took it decides he or she doesn’t?:

Who Owns Your Copyrights?

The answer is there’s nothing to be done about it. That picture is located at a public URL on Facebook. And there’s no way at all to make it go away. Ever. Unless Facebook changes their file naming schemes. Which I’m guessing won’t ever happen.

Protect your (Copy)rights. If you need help doing that, you can contact me directly. But whatever you do, please understand just how open the Internet really is.

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