Disclaimer: None of the information in this blog post (or any other blog post I make) is intended to be taken as legal advice nor should it be construed to be legal advice. I am not a lawyer and if you need legal advice, consult a lawyer or law firm that specializes in the specific type of law that you want legal advice about. Please don’t rely on any advice from the Internet as legal advice although it can be a guide (good, bad, or so-so) as to what to do or avoid doing in certain situations.
Updated August 4, 2019: made note of a now dead link with a link to the Wayback Machine.
Shout-out to my friends Ashley and Billy on the birth of their daughter, Jewel, earlier this week. Looking forward to the birth of my first grandchild who is due next month.
As I approached my 300th blog post, I reflected on what a bumpy ride it has been to reach this point. I lack reliable Internet connection at home and rely on my phone’s limited 3 GB LTE service and various hotspots to access the Internet. For those who think blogging is easy, try it for a while and you may find it isn’t as easy as you think. Coming up with topics and balancing length since Google and other search engines prefer blog posts in the 650+ word range, but many readers prefer blog posts under around 300 – 450 words. This particular post is around 1,800 words in length.
If I count the first blog post that I tried to post on WordPress back in July 2013, this would be my 301st blog post. If I count the 41 unposted blog posts that are in my Draft folder, this would be blog post #343 (around half of those will eventually get posted as I finish researching the information and the other half discarded). From a slightly different standpoint, this would be close to 600 blog posts if I count the several hundred posts on my original blog (upsdownsfamilyhistory.com – link not activated as it’s been down for a while due to a technical issue that I haven’t been able to get resolved, but I am hopeful one day I can afford to find somebody who can resolve the issue and get it back up again). Thankfully, I saved the old blog posts to my computer a day or so before the technical issue popped up and was able to upload the posts from the old system to this blog. Sadly, my very first blog post got ate by WordPress and I learned not to trust auto-save on WordPress. Now, I tend to copy/paste from Notepad if I am planning on posting and it’s going to be a somewhat long post. It’s a lesson I pray nobody else will experience if they decide to blog post.
I decided to start a blog about two (2) years before my first blog post and I spent much of the first year researching copyright law. After reading a horror story from another blogger about copyright in mid 2012, I felt it was very important to read as much about copyright law as I could find online. Before reading the article, I had been studying copyright to learn the right way to reduce the odds of being sued for copyright infringement. After reading it (note: best to either hire a copyright attorney or law firm if you have specific copyright questions; you can also learn a lot by reading the copyright law of your country or asking specific questions of a knowledgeable employee in the Copyright Office; in the U.S., you can find it at https://copyright.gov/; a quick and dirty guide that works for many U. S. copyright instances can be found at http://www.unc.edu/~unclng/public-d.htm (which is now a deadlink. It was still active as of October 21, 2018 (see below), but was no longer active by November 21, 2018, the last time someone saved it to the Wayback Machine: https://web.archive.org/web/20181021200750/http://www.unc.edu/~unclng/public-d.htm – October link) – couple of points: 1) it doesn’t cover certain unusual exceptions and 2) there is a difference between published date for items created before 1978 and creation date for items created after 1977 – before 1978, if it wasn’t published as defined by the U.S. government, the timer for copyright didn’t start until it was published; after 1977, anything that had been created before 1978 and not published fell under the new laws copyright), I made it a point to dig deeper on copyright to avoid the pitfalls of what happened to the blogger. It’s important to realize the need for a circled c or the word copyright by or any other similar verbiage does not apply to anything new created after 1977 in the U.S. (for other countries, check with your copyright law to see how it applies; also realize something can be copyright protected in one country, but out of copyright protection in another – for example, the original King James Version of the Bible (originally published in the 1600’s) is still under copyright in the United Kingdom and will be for a while longer – http://www.legalgenealogist.com/2014/12/12/yes-no-and-maybe/). It’s worth noting the laws on copyright in the U.S. changed greatly over a long period and you need to read the appropriate copyright law covering the time frame of a published work (for pre-1978 works).
Where people who violate copyright tend to get into trouble falls into wrongly assuming something is in the public domain (posting something online doesn’t place anything in the public domain – one of the most common mistakes people make); “fair use” is probably a close second – Note: not all countries have fair use exceptions and the fair use exception in the U.S. is pretty narrowly defined which makes it pretty easy to figure out if your use falls under fair use; assuming that posting where you got it protects you from copyright infringement (it doesn’t, all it does is prevent you from being sued for plagiarism; for CCL copyright exceptions, it is important to note if the exclusion applies to commercial usage or not – my blog is not a commercial site, but I plan on turning it into a commercial site down the road – end result – I choose not to add any images or content that has a commercial restriction to avoid having to dig through years old posts and remove the content once I cross into the commercial realm). Much easier to address the issue before you start blogging (commercial or non-commercial) than to have to address the issue years later. For commercial, there is wide disagreement on what defines commercial; I tend to go with the broadest definition for commercial to avoid guessing wrongly on someone who intended it on a more narrow basis. Best to operate with the theory that anything on your site that generates money for you (and in some instances, if it generates income for a third party even if you receive none of the money), including but not limited to affiliate links, ads that generate income for you; links to donation page for nonprofit websites (yes – for commercial purposes, some copyright holders don’t make allowances for nonprofits having a donations link or page on their website – check with the copyright holder to find out if they allow it or not). Another area where people make bad assumptions involves owning a photograph. I own photos that I paid a professional studio to take, but the studio owns the copyright to those photos so I can’t use them for much unless I want to risk getting sued and losing. Simply paying for a photographer or photo studio to take pictures for you doesn’t mean it was a work for hire unless the contract specifically states it was a work-for-hire or the person was your employee (i.e., you paid employment-related taxes to the photographer). I have some photos that I can use because I paid the photo studio extra to gain copyright permission to use them as I see fit. It tends to be expensive if a studio or photographer doesn’t include this as a standard part of the contract.
Eclectic Mix of Genealogy, Bipolar Depression, Mental Health, Mental Illness, DNA, History, First Nations (aka Native Americans), Military History, World War II, and Cemeteries.
The above is how I describe my blog. I focus a lot on genealogy, DNA, cemeteries, and to a much lesser extent on World War II, military history, mental health/illness, bipolar depression, First Nations, and history in general. My goal is start focusing more on the topics I haven’t covered in many blog posts. In addition, I also focus on reviews of products that I use or link to others who have used them. I picked up this habit from several people (Paul Harvey, Dick Eastman, among others).
I have been working on a blog post for several years now that covers Mississippians (link is to the Wayback Machine since I can no longer easily find it on the MDAH website) who were killed or died as a result of the attack on Pearl Harbor. It’s been slow going as I am relying on information provided by MDAH (Mississippi Department of Archives and History). It provided the names, but not the burial locations. If anybody has knowledge of the burial locations, please let me know. I am trying to include links for Find-A-Grave, BillionGraves, and any other graving site (U.S. GenWeb Tombstone Project, GenealogyTrails, the various state gravestones.org sites, Interment,net). This has slowed research to a crawl as it means searching many graving sites for the information. Once I finish it, I am willing to update it as needed when additional information comes to light.
Another goal is to include links to Facebook groups and pages that cover some of the topics. One of the first will be Bipolar In Order – a program designed to help people who have bipolar along with other resources for those who have mental health issues (DBSA, NAMI, etc.).
For First Nations related stuff, I hope to add posts that can help people try and research Native American heritage although DNA can sometimes help if you have recent Native American in your line (recent being defined as full-blooded within the last 3 – 4 generations).
With history in general and military history specifically, I will include some Facebook groups and pages, plus updates on missing ships or unidentified remains gets identified. A great example is an ongoing attempt by the military to identify the several hundred U.S.S. Oklahoma bodies recovered that could not be identified. As of last month, DNA had identified 100 of the bodies and is expected to potentially identify 80% of the remains.
In addition to occasional product or service reviews, I will also be blogging about writing tips. These tips will cover things that work for me, and also what some experts suggest. I hope to self-publish a book or series at some point and the tips will include why I believe self-publishing is the better way to go for most authors. Hint: the odds of being picked up by a traditional publisher are very low and the pay-outs tend to be much less than if you self-publish. Also, there are many myths and bad assumptions about traditional publishing that need to be busted.