How to Blog Part 11: Copyright and Citations

There are two issues to cover in this How to Blog series: Copyright and Citation.


In “What Do You Do When Someone Steals Your Content,” I wrote:

Having been the target of copyright thieves, and working with writers, authors, and photographers on copyright protection and laws for over 25 years, I thought I’d talk a little about what to do when someone steals your content.

First, you noticed that I didn’t say “if” someone steals your content. That was on purpose. With the glut of information on the Internet, it’s now a matter of “when” not “if”.

The first step in learning about what you can do when someone steals your content is to know that it will happen, so the more prepared and informed you are, the better your chances of prevention and having a plan in place when they steal.

There are many reasons people take and use content that isn’t their own. The two most common reasons are “I didn’t know any better” and laziness.

The “didn’t know any better” excuse doesn’t work with me. If you went to school in the last few hundred years, you would have learned from elementary school on that copying someone else’s work is not just bad, it can get you punished by being kicked out of school, lose your degree, or even your job.

The Internet is no different than the real world.

Learn how to link and quote from published material to stay safe and on the right side of International Copyright Laws.


There will be many times when you will want to quote someone in order to make your point or promote something. Learn how to create these citations correctly to avoid copyright or plagiarism issues. If someone quoted you, you would want to be given fair credit, right?

Fair Use in Copyright law states that you may use a small portion of the original, with proper citation, as a reference, resource, or quote, as long as it does not infringe upon the copyright holder’s policies, licenses, rights, and abilities to generate income from the original.

What does that really mean on the web?

  1. You may use images or words as long as the copyright policy permits it for your usage.
  2. You may only use what is specified, and how it is specified, within that copyright policy.

My copyright policy, and a growing standard on the web, is 10% or 400 words with a link to the page quoted on my site and my site name and my name in the link or nearby text. I do not permit the usage of any of my images or photography without express permission (in writing).

As the owner of your words and images, you can set your own copyright terms, conditions, and license.

Many people choose a copyright license from because it feels too overwhelming to explain it yourself. They offer simple licenses for a variety of copyright terms.

Look around the site for their copyright policy. It should be linked to from their footer or found in their Policies Page or About Page, or possibly on their Contact Page.

A quote on a web page is not much different than a quoted citation in print. To quote a person or reference, you must have the following:

  1. An excerpt or the particular paragraph or phase referenced.
  2. A link to the original content.
  3. The author, title of the article, and optionally the title of the site in the link text.

Presentation of the quoted material is featured on a web page in two traditional formats, one within the content similar to traditional print media, and the other within an HTML tags designating the content as a quote, thus styling it distinctively from the rest of the content.

Within a paragraph: The quoted material is incorporated into the content, no different than you would find in a book. “What baffles me is that publications, ranging from major publications to small websites have failed to get more proactive on the issue,” said Jonathan Bailey of Plagiarism Today in his article, “Journalists: It’s Time to Get In Front of Plagiarism.”

In a blockquote HTML tag: The <blockquote> HTML tag is often designed to feature quoted content visually, indicating clearly that the voice is not that of the author. While every web design treats these differently, in general the content is indented and in italic, and often features a quote symbol or a background colored box. I’ve presented an example above using the blockquote tag, introducing the source within the content, then putting the quote in the blockquote tag. Here is another method.

Between the anti-copyright sites carrying “all rights reserved” notices and copyright enforcers sharing infringing videos on Facebook, it can feel as if everyone has dabbled at least some in copyright hypocrisy, whether they admit it or not or even if they know it or not.

The truth is that, while some of these hypocrisies do truly come from people that are quick to sell out their stated morals, most don’t. They come from a complex and nuanced copyright reality that make holding onto simple ideals almost impossible.

Hypocrisy and Copyright by Jonathan Bailey of Plagiarism Today

Using the <blockquote> HTML tag, I’ve also put the link in a <cite> HTML tag to properly structure the citation within the code. The link itself would work as well.

The WordPress Visual Editor on the Post or Page panel features a quote mark button. Select the text you wish to be in the blockquote and click the blockquote button.

For more information on copyright and proper citation, see the following.

2 comments on “How to Blog Part 11: Copyright and Citations”

  1. […] Blog Your Passion Exploring the Blogging Journey How to Blog Part 4: Choosing a Publishing Platform How to Blog Part 11: Copyright and Citations […]

  2. […] mentioned in How to Blog Part 11: Copyright and Citations, it is a matter of when and not if your blog will be […]

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