The Law of the Jungle

Copyright rules don’t apply online. Well, technically speaking, they apply just the same as anywhere else, but the way the internet is ‘organized’ and how information and content is not limited to a particular location or country has raised a lot of issues on international copyright violations and have more than their share of lawsuits. That’s not what this article is about though, we’re not lawyers, and nothing we say here will make any immediate difference. This is about the one thing you can do that will make it almost impossible for anyone to take any action against you, no matter what it is you did or who they are.

It’s the law of the jungle. It’s a wild beast that has been thus far never been truly stopped, and you can use it for your own advantage. It’s called fair use, and it’s near impossible to truly define. Simply put, if you see something online and you want to use it in an article or presentation or project, all you have to do is cite your sources, follow that up with a link, and you’re good to go.

We’re not talking about binary data or pay-per-view content or anything like that, that’s a whole ‘nother story, and normally has other user-end agreements and various strings attached. But simple content on a website, a picture hosted for the public to see, information or research from someone you’d like to talk about, or anything that catches your eye; it’s already there for anyone that wants it, all you have to do is just ask.

Fair use is fair. Well, we’re technically biased here, with the majority of this site’s contents being Creative Common’d; but it’s hard to argue otherwise. In the real world, when you write an article or publish a story, you can technically quote pages at a time so long as you cite your sources right along with the quote and mention them in a pretty list at the end. Generally speaking, that’s for educational books and research articles or newspaper/magazine sources, but nothing says you can’t do the same with a novel or short story; after all, they’re both protected by the same laws.

It’s the same thing online. Think about it, if you did contact the author, and waited for him or her to reply, and they said it was OK for you to quote them, what would they ask? They could ask you to name them in your story and at most they could request a link back to them; there really isn’t anything more that they could ask, and money is generally speaking out of the question. So you take the initiative and you do the most they have any right to expect.

But the author could have said no. In that case, the author will in time become aware of your site or story (via the backlinks or just by sheer dumb luck) and they’ll ask you to stop. That’s really all they can ever do in accordance with over 98% of all copyright laws. They ask you to stop, and if you do, that’s it. No court, no fees, no litigation, no lawsuits, no trouble. So take the safe side, cite your sources, contribute to the story, trust your judgement, and always listen to the author if he or she contacts you. It’s that simple.

NeoSmart Technologies in no way, shape, or form endorses copyright violation. NST has published this article in good faith and firmly believes that following these steps is in accord with major copyright laws around the world, and particularly in the United States of America and throughout Europe. Please forward any complaints to

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