A few blogs that I read have recently made mention of copyright issues, including myself in a recent re-blog experience earlier this month in my 'New Realities of the Legal Academy' post.
I was singularly un-impressed with TypePad's re-blog function, yet carried on as I assumed I had implicit licence from the original blogger to reproduce their work... they had made that functionality available, so use it I did.
Lilian Edwards also caught my eye with a snappy post on PanGloss following a Keith Chegwin twitter incident that caused some debate and commentary on twitter regarding copyright for jokes and/or twitter posts:
"Jokes - and especially tweeted jokes - are often quite short, vaguely familiar variations on a theme, and don't look much like the public conception of a "literary work", which is the applicable category of copyright (for written down jokes anyway). But the law as usual is not as simple as ordinary common sense.
Copyright exists only in works which are "original literary works". But case law has set a very low bar on such protection. A "literary" work has been held to include a long list of extremely unexciting written-down "things", eg, exam papers, football coupon forms, and a large number of meaningless five letter words used as codes. Looking at rather short literary works, it is generally acknowledged, eg, that some particularly pithy headlines might well engage copyright, though slogans are more contested, and usually protected by trade mark. There is the famous Exxon case, Exxon Corp. v. Exxon Insurance Consultants International Ltd  Ch. 119, in which the English court held one word was too short to be a literary work. But 140 characters is somewhat longer..."
I now feel at great pains to make sure I acknowledge all sources here, especially for this post!
Dinusha Mendis also gave a presentation at GIKII, but I don't see anything on their website, and only a paper-to-be-published note on her website. Clearly academics are starting to look at the IPR implications of new technologies such as twitter.
More recently, David Hopkins brought up the subject of 'blogging plagiarism' at Don't Waste Your Time, following comments from Sue Waters at the EduBlogger back in March 2010, where the author's permission was the key concept that Sue was making - which as I mentioned above, is probably implicitly granted in the re-blog facility, where available. But, where it is not available, Sue is making a very good point. We should, however, keep in mind concepts such as freedom of speech and of the press to report when dealing with quotes, minor exerpts etc, yet still uphold the moral netiquette of seeking permission for longer, more substantial or entire repetition of content.
David did bring to my attention the neat little functionality tool Tynt that can be added to a blog, which will then mark-up any 'use' of that blog's content elsewhere. David descibes it better and in more detail on his blog!
I've added this as a widget to the Digital Directions blog - not that I'm too concerned as you'll notice that the blog already has a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales License, but this would ensure the 'attribution' aspect of the licence is applied for those who wish to make use of it.
Although, as Tynt's FAQs states, the user can simply delete the 'suggested' attribution after they have cut and paste, but at least the effortless attribution and weblinks are created automatically and a moral choice is to be made.
As we move into the new academic year, we should perhaps think about how our students use blogs and other 'unconventional' sources of information - I spoke about this at the last LILAC conference and really need to get the paper written up properly, but the slides are available on slideshare and one or two blogs get a mention - attributed of course!
The gist of my presentation was that many academics shun the use of internet sites and resources in student essays - and quite often rightly so. After all, we wouldn't cite wikipedia or westlaw as a source. I examined two year's worth of final year student essays to look for proper bona fide references to blogs run by academics or practitioners that contained valid referenceable commentary that would not be found elsewhere - if these were not referenced by the student, then the charge of plagiarism (hence the copyright issue) could be raised.