©Copyright 101

Who Owns the Stuff on the Internet?

Since it is on the Internet, can you use it for your own purposes?  Sorry, but that’s not true.

Text, videos, GIFs, music, photos, and artwork are web content and belong to the people who created them. In the USA, ownership is established the moment the content starts to exist. Copyright laws protect the ownership rights of authors, musicians, artists, photographers, and anyone else who creates something.  A work does not need to be signed or registered, and does not enter the public domain until 70 years after the creator’s death. (Canada and the UK appear to have similar laws. If you want to use someone else’s work, check the copyright laws in your country.)

Example: This is a photo of my dog. I took the photo. Although I shared it on WordPress and Instagram, it still belongs to me. No one has the right to use my photo for another purpose, such as screen printing the image on T-shirts to sell without my permission.

cricket in snow

Also, web sites are not public; each one has an owner . The content on any web site belongs to the owner, even if log-in (sign-in) is not required to view the content. Some generous owners of content make it freely available for use by others. With the exception of government web sites, there are very few sites with free content.

Bottom Line

Don’t assume that everything that is shared online can be used for other purposes. If you want to use someone’s creation (story, photo, music, etc.,) it’s best to ask permission.


Criticism, Harassment & Bullying

What’s the difference between criticism, harassment, and bullying and how it invaded the Internet? First let’s get some definitions:

Criticism: The expression of disapproval of someone or something based on perceived faults or mistakes. It is also the analysis and judgment of the merits and faults of a literary or artistic work.

Harassment: A course of conduct which annoys, threatens, intimidates, alarms, or puts a person in fear of their safety.

Bullying: To use superior strength or influence to intimidate (someone), typically to force him or her to do what one wants. (Example: A group of kids that push another kid around until he gives up his lunch money.)

Whether it is from our spouses, children, other family members, or at our job, criticism goes on in our lives every day. If you’re employed, doesn’t the boss give you a performance review, which can dictate your next raise or firing from your job. How about if you are a business owner and receive a customer complaint about the service or product? What about your kids? Aren’t their complaints about their school lunches or curfews criticism about your parenting?

Even celebrities are not immune to criticism from their fans, who are essentially their customers. When a fan is not satisfied, they might offer criticism before they just take their business elsewhere and watch a different TV show, cheer for a different team, or buy another author’s book. In today’s volatile political atmosphere, many celebrities get disapproval when they post comments. They are frequently told to stick to their acting, music, writing, etc.

Bullying is entirely different. It is intended to intimidate someone for a desired outcome. In children, it also humiliates. Since children are still developing physically, mentally, and emotionally, bullying can lead to damage. These days, the word bullying is a hot-button word that gets people riled up and ready to take action. But can adults be bullied, or is it truly harassment? By the time a person can vote and get a driver’s license, bullying should be a thing of one’s childhood. In my opinion, any adult who views negative comments (criticism) as bullying needs to seek counselling. When harassment between adults is repetitive, there may be grounds for legal action. If “calling out” the harasser is not enough to make it stop, maybe it’s time to involve law enforcement or threaten lawsuits.

On social media, many comments are just plain rude or nasty criticism. And they are happening everywhere, across all SM platforms. The problem is really simple; there is no analysis of the comment to determine if it is criticism or harassment. Anything negative is immediately deemed bullying and needs others to defend the recipient. Children are vulnerable, and need help to protect themselves. Adults are a different story. They are not children, and need to take whatever action is necessary to eliminate the harassment. They should not be relying on third parties to fight their battles. Just saying…

Twitter is Seven!

Just in case you missed it last month, Twitter celebrated its seventh birthday.  Created in 2006, it has grown to the 3rd largest social networking site with over 500 million registered users.  As a micro-blog site, Twitter is limited to very short messages, called Tweets. To accommodate these messages Twitter users need shorthand. Here are the top 25 Twitter abbreviations according to Internet@Suite 101.

  • AFAIK – as far as I know
  • b/c, bcz or cuz – because
  • BFN – bye for now
  • EM – email
  • fav/fave – favorite
  • FB – Facebook
  • FTF or F2F – face to face
  • FWD – forward
  • GN – good night
  • HT – hat tip
  • HTH – hope that helps
  • IIRC – if I remember correctly
  • IRL – in real life
  • J/K – just kidding
  • LI – LinkedIn
  • NP – no problem
  • OH – overheard
  • TY – thank you
  • TYVM – thank you very much
  • YW – you’re welcome

This article appears courtesy of Bob Bly’s Direct Response Letter,” www.bly.com.

Making Money from Your Old Clothes

Now that spring is here, it’s time to clean out the closet and get rid of the out-of-date fashions, garments you never really liked that much, stuff that is shabby looking, or just no longer the right size. <sigh> So what can you do with all this stuff? While you can just dump it in the trash barrel, there are ways to get some cash back on this clothing.

Garage Sales

The annual spring garage/yard sale can reap some return on investment. Plan your sale in advance, publicize it, and have everything ready at opening. Make sure all that the clothing is clean, sorted by style or size, and displayed on a rack or on branches of a nearby tree. Don’t just dump them in a box and let the visitors rummage through the box. If you have women’s, men’s, and children’s clothing, make sure they are separated and clearly marked. Nothing turns off the garage sale shopper than having to hunt through piles of mixed clothes. And last of all — don’t over price any clothing. Shoppers want a bargain, and if the price is too high, they will just go to the store and buy new.

Consignment Stores

Due to the poor economy, second-hand clothing shops are popping up all over. If you have high quality, fashionable clothing, this could be a good option. Basic operation is simple: you take your clean clothing into the shop and the management decides if they can take it on consignment and pay you an amount of the price if it sells. So you can make some money, providing the item sells. You will not make a fortune, maybe 40% of the final sales price. But keep in mind that the item will sell at a lot lower price than the price you paid when it was new. If your item does not sell, you are responsible for picking it up or the store will donate it to charity in their name. In short, it’s up to you to follow-up on the items you place in a consignment shop.

Donate to Charity

If you don’t want to be bothered with a garage sale or consignment, you can just donate the clothes to a charity of your choosing. You get to choose the charity and you get the donation as a tax credit.  The IRS allows reasonable deductions for clothing, which is beneficial if you itemize your deductions each year. This is by far the easiest way to get rid of old clothing, but check with the charity first. Some charities are overloaded with clothing and may refuse your donation.

Clothing Swaps

Another way to get rid of no longer needed clothing is to organize a swap with family and friends. While you don’t make any money, you may get nice clothing in return and save money by not having to purchase new. This is very beneficial for families with children, who frequently out-grow clothing before it is worn out. Clothing swaps are not new– they have been around for years. It’s a good way to stretch the budget.

Catastrophic Illness

I’ve been off-line for a while, over two months to be more accurate. It’s because of catastrophic illness in my family. My husband has cancer, in the form of a tumor in his hip. It’s osteosarcoma, a bone cancer that caused a fracture in his pelvic bone. He has been in a hospital that is 100 miles away from home since Thanksgiving, and will probably be there until Easter — a period of over four months. He had chemotherapy, is facing a big surgery in the coming weeks and then weeks or months of physical therapy.

Long hospital stays are basically a thing of the past. Today most people go to the hospital for short stays, even if they are having surgery. It’s like a revolving door: in the day of surgery and out the same day, or the next day. In and out, just like that. Nobody is admitted for observation or for testing. That’s done in an out-patient setting or a small clinic. Most of these changes are due to health care insurers; they don’t want to pay for hospital stays. So out-patient procedures, simply x-rays, and preventative testing are now covered by insurance when they weren’t in the past.

I’m probably quite lucky; we have insurance to cover the medical bills and I think we have enough. But in the beginning I was in a panic worrying about whether I had enough coverage for all the costs of his care, or whether we would be homeless next year, living in the car with our dogs. Catastrophic illness can decimate a family, leave them with debts they will never be able to pay, and send them into bankruptcy.

Everyone needs health insurance. Not for the small illnesses, like a case of the flu or a sprained ankle. Most people can pay those costs themselves. They need it for the once-in-a-lifetime big illness – like a massive heart attack, broken back, or cancer.

Everyone needs health insurance, and yet, people complain about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. Some people (who generally have health insurance) get self-righteous about the coming mandate to buy insurance for themselves and their families if their employers don’t provide it. They ask, “What right does the government have to force people to buy health insurance?”

So, what should we do if this provision is defeated and the people without health insurance get sick? What do we do if their bills are insurmountable? Do we let the hospitals turn them away if they can’t demonstrate an ability to pay? Do we let them die in the street outside the hospital because they have no money or insurance to pay for care?

Everyone needs health insurance.  We’ve contributed to our employer-sponsored health insurance for over 40 years. Even today, our premiums are $5,000 per year. My husband’s bills might reach $1 million dollars. I’m glad I have health insurance. What about you? Can you afford to pay for a catastrophic illness?

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

Well, it’s almost over… that is, the election cycle for this year. And frankly, it’s not soon enough for me.  I don’t know how you feel, but I am tired of being bombarded with political mail, email, TV ads,  phone calls, and Facebook comments.

Living in Washington, the elections are different from New Jersey, where we used to go to the polling place. Here we get to vote by mail. My ballot came in the mail about three weeks ago, along with a booklet discussing all the candidates and referendums on the ballot. Each candidate had a statement and each party had a rebuttal. The referendums on gay marriage, public charter schools, legalizing marijuana and an increase in city sales taxes were clearly explained by each side, and they also provided an opposition statement. After a voter fills out the ballot and puts it into the purple envelope, they can put postage on and mail it, or they can drop it off at a collection site at the local library. It’s a very easy process to follow.

And the ads this year were ridiculous. Almost all the political ads were focused on elections for Washington offices: governor, US senator, Congress, and the multitude of referendums. There was hardly any ads for the presidential office. I guess Barack Obama and Mitt Romney don’t count out here.  But then again, it’s considered the “other” Washington. Thanks to King 5 news and Robert Mak, who explained all the ads and their built-in bias.

But the campaigning never seems to stop, and I say enough is enough. The last week I’ve been getting telephone calls from “volunteers” who wanted to know if I voted yet. When I say yes, then they proceed to ask me who I voted for, which is none of their business. We also had a television news report that some people were going house to house collecting ballots from residents who didn’t mail them yet. Can you believe that? Strangers collecting ballots… how do you know that they are not going into the trash instead of being turned in to be counted?

So just one more day and it will all be over for another four years, I hope (unless both the winners and losers start planning for the next campaign next week). I just hope all those political signs disappear within the next week. It’d be nice to drive down the highway and not be distracted by ugly, old political signs.

The Tattletale Dog

The tiny Sheltie puppy was so cute with her brown and white fuzzy fur. But she did not know how to bark; she just made little squeaky noises. I named her Noelle because she was born on Christmas day, after dinner, according to her breeder.

About a year later, I woke up one night because I thought I heard voices in the living room. I got up and went to see if the TV, radio, or police scanner was still on. Noelle was sleeping on the sofa, and Cricket, the other Sheltie, was fast asleep in her dog bed on the floor. I checked that all the electronics were turned off, and then looked out the window for a car with a loud, blaring radio. Not seeing anything, I walked from room to room and Noelle followed me. She was probably hoping I would stop in the kitchen and give her a little treat.

As I approached the kitchen door, Noelle ran around me, blocking my path. Noelle looked up at me and started those little squeaky sounds. Then she said, “Don’t open the door Mom. There are monsters out there.” I pulled my hand away from the door knob, and flipped up the light switch. Sure enough, there was a mother bear and three cubs on the deck, just like Noelle said.

I turned to look at Noelle and said, “Thank you Noelle; you are becoming a good watch dog.” Noelle looked up at me and surprised me again by replying, “Thank you Mom. I just wanted to protect you from the monsters.” Noelle went on to say, “Now that I have your attention, I want to tell you about the other fur kids that live here, and what they do all day when you are at work.”

“First of all, Cricket, the other Sheltie, does not want to run and play very much; she just lies around most days. Whenever I try to play with her, she growls at me to go away. I know she fell and got hurt last month, but she is just milking it now. If she does not start playing soon, she is going to get fat and be useless as a herding dog. It is written in our genes that all Shelties have a duty to protect the sheep and run off the monsters.” I sat down on the closest chair and was speechless as this little dog went on.

Noelle continued, “Now for those cats – it’s a mystery to me as to their mission in life. The oldest cat, Holly, sleeps all day, and to prove it — she is already fat. She is also very grumpy and hisses at me if I get too close. I know that Holly swatted Cricket once before when she got too close. I did notice a bump on her nose. Maybe it hurts and I think that she should go to that awful place to see the vet. I don’t wish a vet visit on any animal, not even a cat, but I think Holly is sick.”

“As for the other cat, Patches is just plain lazy and he sleeps a lot, too. When we think that he wants to play, we chase him, and just when we are about to herd him into a corner, he jumps on a counter or windowsill where we can’t reach him. Then he has the audacity to look down at Cricket and me and laugh at us with that silly purring.”

Then I heard the music from the clock radio. I looked around and saw daylight streaming in the window. It was morning. Noelle and Cricket were standing next to the bed looking at me. Then Noelle gave me a soft bark, not a little squeaky noise, to say “good morning.”

(We lost Noelle on the last day of August. She was only 6, and it was the worst thing that ever happened. The vets tried everything to save her. She is now waiting with Holly at the Rainbow Bridge.)