I deal in hope : Carolyn R Scheidies

Blog If it isn’t your work, ask before using

Most of us who write, also like to read. When reading, we find quotes, information, and facts that inform and inspire us. Sometimes we keep that information handy or even memorize a favorite passage. Most authors enjoy knowing what they write inspires someone. I know getting an email or phone call about one of my columns or books is an encouragement, and better than having someone tear what I wrote or my point-of-view to shreds—which has also happened.

Earlier this year, I received a book in the mail. The book was about health and fitness. I hadn’t ordered it, though it looked interesting. I used to receive unsolicited books all the time when I was a book reviewer. But I hadn’t been in that business for ten years or more.

I thumbed through the book. As I did so, I came across a quote from one of my books The God Connection. The author made clear the passage inspired her, thus her use of it in her own book. It was even correctly listed in her bibliography. I’m sure the author believed I’d be excited to have my quote in her book. My response was more complicated than that.

There is a line between enjoying a piece of material, being inspired, and then using the quote in something the author has written and is offering for sale to others. I’ve used quotes from any number of authors, especially in my book Help! I’m a New Mother. However, for every quote, every piece of material used, I contacted the authors for permission. I used nothing for which I wasn’t given specific permission.

That is the point. Writing isn’t a hobby for me. It has been my career. This means I want a say in where and when my material is used. Once something is written, it belongs solely to the author. The author can give or sell some or all rights for publication purposes, but it is the author’s choice of what, when and how.

What the author of the book in which she used my material without permission didn’t realize is that in using my material without my permission, she wasn’t giving me a compliment, she was in essence and legally stealing from me. This goes for photos and graphics as well as text. In this easy-access internet world, it is often simple to cut and paste a quote online into something a person is writing. That doesn’t make it legal or right.

Whether you are writing a book, feature, story, or blog, think before using the material from an author or artist, or photographer. Would you like your work used in ways you may not even agree with? It can even lead to that creator losing rights to their own work.

My advice to budding authors is to work hard and learn your craft. Also, learn and abide by legal rights accorded you and other creators. Most of all, if you wish to use another creator’s material, PLEASE ask, and receive permission. We all benefit from basic courtesy.

© 2022 Carolyn R Scheidies
Published Kearney Hub 11/29/2022
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