Blogging about Poetry and Literature,· a discussion on licensing original work | Resources | Better Poetry Guides | Getting Started in Poetry

Christine Murray

It is a propitious time to begin discussing the protection of original works, given the expansion of specialised internet usage, be it through sites such as, or the huge growth in blogging, through platforms such as Tumblr, Posterous, WordPress and Weebly. Those writers who market and develop outward from personal Weblogs begin to understand through their reviewing and  online publication that there exist a set of protections for the writer’s original works. As reviewers we have a cognisance of our own work developing outward,  and  in referring to the works of another. The most common rule of thumb in review, referral and discussion of another’s original work that we may build upon is the Fair Use Policy.


It is important when working with other people’s original work to operate under this policy, and I have excerpted the opening paragraph here:

Fair use, a limitation and exception to the exclusive right granted by copyright law to the author of a creative work, is a doctrine in United States copyright law that allows limited use of copyrighted material without acquiring permission from the rights holders. Examples of fair use include commentary, criticism, news reporting, research, teaching, library archiving and scholarship. It provides for the legal, non-licensed citation or incorporation of copyrighted material in another author’s work under a four-factor balancing test. The term fair use originated in the United States. A similar principle, fair dealing, exists in some other common law jurisdictions. Civil law jurisdictions have other limitations and exceptions to copyright.

A general rule is that it is acceptable to use 10% or less of the original work in the modes of transmission, such as blogging without having to refer to copyright law. It is also important to correctly attribute the work in a bibliography and include the editor, publisher, author and year of publication of the selected text.

Currently in Ireland a discussion has begun on a new CreativeCommonsLicence , The draft licence is available here . This pertains to Poets, writers, cartoonists, musicians,reviewers and those of us who regularly publish original work online. There are three forms of licences available, each one allows the artist/writer to set up a copyright and these should be briefly discussed in terms of the protections that they offer to the originator of the work.

Attribution 3.0 Unported (CCBY 3.0  : This licence is an Attributed Unported licence, it allows others to ‘ copy, transmit and distribute the original work’ but the work must be attributed to the originator of the work.

AttributionNoDerivs 3.0 Unported (CCBYND 3.0: This licence allows others to ‘Copy, transmit and distribute the original work’, it  does not allow adaptions or derivatives  from the work. The work must be correctly attributed to the originator.

AttributionNonCommercialShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CCBYNCSA 3.0 : This Licence allows others to ‘Copy, distribute and transmit the work, it also allows adaptions and derivatives’ whilst attributing the work to the originator.

Many  bloggers make use of these licences and they can be seen attached to original works across Irish Blogs. The issue with poetry is that it does not lend itself to being adapted nor built upon, as it is ‘stand alone’ in its expression. For this reason,
the Poetry foundation of America has issued a ‘Code of Best practices in Fair use for Poetry’ document.

This document discusses how poetry as original work is used, built upon (in music and in translation. it is a highly important document, which poets and those involved in literature should be aware of in terms of making themselves aware of how their work is transmitted and distributed online. I am excerpting here:

This code of best practices helps poets understand when they and others have the right to excerpt, quote and use copyrighted material in poetry. To create this code, poets came together to articulate their common expectations, facilitated by Patricia Aufderheide, director of the Center for Social Media; Katharine Coles, director of the Harriet Monroe Poetry Institute at the Poetry Foundation; Peter Jaszi, Professor of Law in the Washington College of Law at American University; and Jennifer Urban, Professor of Law at the University of California Berkeley.”

I have published the document links onto my blog, alongside some relevant links here. The above issues regarding how we respect and use other people’s rights to their own original works, and how our original works are linked or transmitted is a wide area of concern. I hope that this short piece elucidates the issue somewhat , and I welcome any questions on the issues raised above. There will be some updates on the development on licences at UCC over the coming period.

About the author

(c) Christine Murray for 2011

Chris  Murray has a BA in Art History (UCD)  and is a City and Guilds (Grade1) Stone-cutter, with a certificate from NCAD in  Fine Art Etching and dry-point. She has exhibited in the Hugh Lane Gallery,  Temple Bar Galleries and Studios and Kenny’s Bookshop and Gallery, Galway. Chris has published with Poetry Ireland, Caper Literary Journal, Asylum Magazine, and Crannóg Literary Magazine. Upcoming publications include Posts Magazine (DCU) and Revival Magazine (Limerick).

She is a member of the International PEN Women Writer’s Committee, and manages a Poetry Blog, called ‘Poethead’which is linked to a number of Literary Blogs, including Nomadics (A Pierre Joris Blog), 53 Degrees (Eoin O Mahony), The Anti-Room blog, and Dialogues Blog.  Poethead is also named as a literary blog on The Tangled Web, Poetry Ireland’s resources page. She has recently completed a book of poetry, called ‘Names for Trees’ and is the Social Media co-ordinator for Irish PEN

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