A post on proper sharing online

I’ve received a lot of questions about proper sharing lately, and since I know this is a confusing topic, I wanted to create a post with some visuals for it.  Proper sharing really isn’t that complicated but it can be hard to describe with just words.  I, personally, love see my work shared and I love seeing others bloggers work shared especially when sharing correctly!  The information I’m providing in this post is just my opinion, so other bloggers may not agree with me (that’s just my disclaimer!)

Bloggers: If you agree with my post and wish to copy any or all of it for your own blog, please feel free!  For this blog post only you can use as many images and as much of the text as you wish.

I’d like to start with examples of proper sharing.  As a general rule, most blogs allow you to use one picture (unaltered) with a link back to the source.  This is true on my blog as well, so if you wish to share something on your blog, facebook, or any other medium, you can use ONE photo per post WITH a link back.
Example from Hands on As We Grow
Proper Sharing Online - etiquette and rules

If you use my printables and want to blog about it, you are allowed to take photos and share them.  A link back is most appreciated, but not required. (These photos would also legally be your own photos and despite that my works are in them, I would hold no copyright against them Winking smile)
Example from Wildflower Ramblings:
Proper Sharing Online - etiquette and rules


Sharing in Facebook Groups

This seems to be one of those most confusing, but I hope this graphic will clear things up.
Proper Sharing Online - etiquette and rules

In the first example, the entire file was directly uploaded to the group.  You can see there is a download link.  This is not okay and against my terms of use.

In the second example, the link goes directly to the pdf file.  According to my Terms of Use, linking directly to the PDF file is not okay (not only in facebook groups, but at all)

In the third example the link goes the my blog where the file is linked.  This is the appropriate way to link.  Including the picture preview is not necessary.


Sharing from Facebook Pages

Proper Sharing Online - etiquette and rules

The easiest way to share on facebook is to use the share option.  You can share from pages to your personal timeline, your own page, or facebook groups.  Very easy and always proper.


Dropbox and Mediafire (and other similar websites)

These websites are intended so you can have your own files and photos backed up on a website that you can then access anywhere you have an internet connection.  It is specifically against their terms of use to host a file that is not your own, in public or private folders.  My files are not allowed to be uploaded onto a Dropbox or Mediafie account, or any other similar website.  If you have bought a unit study, lapbook, pack, etc online it is not yours to claim and therefore you can not upload to these websites.  Purchasing an item does not give you the rights to that item.


Why does this matter?

I’d like to include a quick blub about why this is all important to me as a blogger.  I offer the vast majority of my printables for free online, but I still have a lot of costs associated with making these printables and offering them for download.  I have a choice on how to recoup the costs – ads or charging for printables.  At this point in time, I’ve chose ads.  If my files are hosted incorrectly, my ads are not being seen and therefore I have no way to recoup my costs.  If I cannot pay for the website, I cannot offer free files.  Believe me, I’m not getting rich off this website.  I make printables because I enjoy it. Unfortunately, at this time we cannot afford for me to make free printables and not recoup the costs just because I enjoy it.

In regards to the legality of sharing.  I own copyright of my works as these are my intellectual property.
These files may not be shared under fair use.
In the US, the fair use statute gives four factors to consider in a fair use analysis.

  1. the purpose and character of your use
  2. the nature of the copyrighted work
  3. what amount and proportion of the whole work was taken, and
  4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work

If my files are distributed any place other than my website, it hurts the potential market of the work because I can potentially earn money from the ad revenue on my blog.

I’ve also been told that copyrights are unconstitutional.  I’ve done some reading on this and the arguments against copyright I’ve found are that some copyright law has gone too far, not all of it.  A good example would be if Joe McDonald started an automotive shop named McDonalds Automotive and McDonalds, the restaurant, sued because of the name.  They’re not in competition and copyright probably should not extend that far.

When it comes to copyrighting individual works, however, that is different. 


Lastly, here are my terms of use.


You may:

Print as many copies as you’d like

Use them in a group or classroom setting

Share the link to my blog to other people who are interested in the pack

Post online about the pack giving proper credit back to RoyalBaloo.com

You may not:

Sell or distribute this file

Host this file on your own website or any other website (this includes facebook groups and forums)

Upload this file to a shared website (i.e. 4shared.com, mediafire, dropbox)

Claim these files or sell them as your own

Link directly to the pdf file online

Print and sell them to others



A few real life examples:

A teacher can print off copies for an entire class.
A teacher can not send the pdf file out to all her teacher friends and/or parents.
A parent can print off multiple copies for all of her children.
A parent can not upload the pdf file to dropbox to share with their friends.
A co-op group can print off multiple copies for the kids in their co-op.
A co-op group can not send the pdf file to all the members in the co-op.



I really hope this clears up any questions you may have had about proper sharing.  If you have any doubts or more questions, feel free to leave a comment or e-mail me directly at erin at royalbaloo dot com.

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  1. Hi Erin!  While I don't have many printables available, I found this post to be incredibly informative!!  I think you covered every base — appropriate sharing of blog posts, FB shares, and shares overall.  As a "visual person", I also really appreciated the pictures.  Thank you!

  2. Thanks for posting this. I have not yet gotten into printables (as a user or provider) partly because I was unsure of things like this. I will remember this post is here for my own reference as well as to share with others!

  3. It baffles me that people cannot abide by the rules.  It is so much easier to send out a link than an entire  file. 🙁 

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