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Creativity vs copyright with your bullet journal – 3 Tips to help you stay legal

I know for a fact that this post is going to ruffle some feathers, and thats ok! Maybe its time to ruffle feathers, because essentially I think its important that we are all on the same page about Copyrights and Creativity! So lets get straight into talking about copyright vs creativity with your bullet journal .

Now I realise that I may sound like a hypocrite later in this post – where I blatantly use peoples pictures without permission. You can decide if that sits well with you or not, but for me, I am ok with it.

Let’s start right at the top of this; Bullet Journaling. The term Bullet Journal, Bujo etc are copy a copyright of Ryder Carroll. While I can blog about it, and talk about the concept and share the process, I cannot claim the system as my own. If I want to sell something around Bullet Journals, then it needs to be reworded as to not cause confusion to the original brand. Which is tricky considering everyone uses the term Bujo and the likes. This is why we like to call it To Dot listing, or bullet planner, or dot planning when we refer to it in a business sense.

Part 4 covered instagram and copyright

What is copyright?

By definition, is the exclusive and assignable legal right, given to the originator for a fixed number of years to print, publish, perform, film, or record literary, artistic, or musical material. In summary, don’t use peoples things without permission but you can talk or create based on the same concepts.

So how does this translate to Instagram? Because someone has posted it in an open content , isn’t it then a “free for all”?

What does instagram say about creativity vs copyright with your bullet journal

What instagram says:

In most countries, copyright is a legal right that protects original works of authorship. Typically, if you create one of those works, you obtain a copyright from the moment you create it. Copyright covers a wide variety of types of works, including:

  • Visual: videos, movies, TV shows and broadcasts, video games, paintings, photographs
  • Audio: songs, musical compositions, sound recordings, spoken word recordings
  • Written: books, plays, manuscripts, articles, musical scores

Remember, only original works are eligible for copyright protection. To be original enough for copyright protection, a work needs to be created by the author themselves, and must have some minimal amount of creativity.

Generally, things like names, titles, slogans or short phrases aren’t considered to be original enough for copyright protection. For example, the symbol “+” is likely not subject to copyright, but a painting full of shapes and colors arranged in a unique pattern is likely protected under copyright.

Copyright doesn’t generally protect facts or ideas, but it may protect the original words or images that express a fact or idea. This means that you may be able to express the same idea or fact as another author, as long as you don’t copy that author’s way of expressing that idea or fact. For example, a playwright may not be able to copyright the idea of a man waking up to repeat the same day over and over again, but the script for a play or movie expressing that idea could be subject to copyright.

So what does this mean for us? Surely at some point there is going to be some over lap? There is only som many ways we can draw a straight line for our planner or spreads, there are only so many trackers we can create, and there are only so many times we can use the word Monday!

In one article on “Elite Daily” the author states about instagram;

So you’ve painted, photographed or crafted something beautiful and you’re looking for a way to share it with the world. If you’re interested in having it stolen or copied, there’s one sure place to go.

He got this pedantic about instagram infringements after a picture of his nephew was taken and used.

What about @theartofbujo? We repost content! Does that mean I am stealing work?

We all know that copying images and calling them your own is wrong, but it is dead easy to copy and post and with over 800 million accounts, spotting someone who has snapped up your worth might be hard. As a user generated content account, we make sure that we credit the original creator of the content, and if we happen to get that wrong, we change it immediately, doesn’t take much, a simple comment or DM. But do we have permission? Simply put, no. Posting, hashtagging, and sharing images on social media does not give up your copyright. It is still up to you who uses your image. You get to decide who reposts your image and who doesn’t.Sometimes we want our images to be reposted by specific accounts of big brands with lots of followers in the hopes of gaining more followers ourselves. That social currency is enough of a tradeoff where we allow someone to use work without monetary compensation. But there is a thing called implied consent, hashtags and tagging.Hashtags evolved on Twitter as a way to group tweets. They soon became the de facto method of keywording content, and users have used them literally (e.g. #eating, #chocolate) and ironically (e.g. #ihateitwhenthathappens). For young millenials and Generation Z, hashtags are a natural (and sometimes subconsciously applied) form of language. Whatever the case, hashtags (and geotags) are effective discovery mechanisms. But does a hashtag imply consent?Legally speaking, a lack of case law means the jury’s out. So by tagging us and #ing #theartofbujo you give us implied consent to use you work, but because of these issues around the laws, we have taken to commenting on the photo we want to use in our feature, and then requesting the expressed consent for use. We would never want someone to feel disenfranchised with us sharing their work. If we have missed one however, and you spot it, let us know in the first instance 🙂

Can copying work can boost creativity? Can copying really help me be more creative?

In a university study compiled wiht 30 university students, the concept of copying very creativity was covered. One group was asked to create an original piece of work each day, and the second group was asked to create an original piece of work on the firs day, on the second day they were asked to copy a piece of work, and on the third day, again requested to create an original piece of work. They then had professional artists asses the two groups work, what they found was that the work created by the group that had copied was far more creative than the group that had not copied, and that they showed far more experimentation. Where as the group that didn’t copy merely honed their skills and created more realistic impressions of the art. In another study completed Okada and Ishibashi’s research found, however, that in certain circumstances, asking people to copy examples of others can ultimately result in more creative works, rather than providing them with little to go on.

What this means that quite often imagination is constrained by a lack of exposure to other possibilities or concepts. Copying pushes people to compare styles and try new things, and ultimately generates new ideas.

Does all of this mean if I use a picture, am I breaching copyright with my bullet journal

Isn’t imitation the highest form of flattery? Yeah Nah. Bullet journaling isn’t something new and with over 1.8million #bulletjournal posts, there is bound to be some overlap.

More and more certain journalists have an artistic style that is really identifiable or recognisable. So at the end of the day, chances are high that you are going to get caught out for this. There is a massive community of journalists who are watching out for one another, because keep in mind, while the concept of bullet journaling might not be unique, peoples art and interpretation of it is. So:

Don’t Copy, you will get caught at some stage.

There is also a strong difference between “using an idea” and blatantly copying someone’s work. If you are using the same colours, the same words and the same details, that is copying, but if you are using a spread to inspire yours with your own twist on it? Well….that’s awesome and we would love to see it. But give credit to the person you found the inspiration from. And if you cannot find the person to give them credit, state that!

“Was really inspired by a post I saw on (Instagram/Pinterest) but cannot find the original poster! Hopefully they like the spin I’ve put on it! Please tag them if you know them!”

[YUMPU epaper_id=60343309 width=”512″ height=”384″]

Earlier this month, it came to light that a journalist and studygrammer was copying to grow their large following, I have highlighted the issues in the above document. The account gets a number of sponsors, products etc, all from copied content that is often taken down due to infringements. I requested for them to comment, but due to the fact they are 14 and probably lapping up sponsorship and engagement (you might want to read how Instagram creates narcissists) i would have at least expected them to give their side of the story. My opinion is that if this account holder “made a mistake” it would have happened once, but the regularity that its happening with, tells me its just blatant disregard for anyone else.

3 Tips to keep yourself legal with your bullet journal:

1. Make sure you always ask permission – if you are a sharing account (like ours), make sure permission is implied in your bio with the appropriate hashtag and the tag.

2. If you use someone’s work for inspiration, share it with them first, before you post it publicly and then make sure to give them the appropriate credit.

3. If you are copying to try a new technique, just don’t post it to Instagram or other social media until you have created enough with it (at least a 35% change), for it NOT to be a direct copy. Also if you are going to copy – don’t use a public hash tag like #bulletjournal for everyone to see your copying handy-work.

What are some good examples of copyright work in bullet journal circles?

Some people we would love to share again because they are just amazing and so great at giving credit where credit is due!

The lovely Bujo posted this great heart of Instagram post, and Ida Camilla took it and was inspired by it and gave the appropriate credit!

Example 1:

Copyright vs Creativity with your bullet journal
Copyright vs Creativity with your bullet journal

Example 2:

Copyright vs Creativity with your bullet journal
Copyright vs Creativity with your bullet journal

Example 3:

One of my favorite examples is this memory  spread by Kim over at @bumblebujo who got inspiration, and credited her inspiration to Emma from Bujobug and her adorable gratitude tracker. This then gave rise to Juians gorgeous red memory spread,  the adorable Kimi making a minimalist version and a pretty blue version from Bullet Journal Noob. All of these give reference to the original creator.

Copyright vs Creativity with your bullet journal
Copyright vs Creativity with your bullet journal
Copyright vs Creativity with your bullet journal
Copyright vs Creativity with your bullet journal
Copyright vs Creativity with your bullet journal

Examples on the fence

Here, someone has posted great content, and because of it, people have replicated it, and some give credit and some do not.

One that sort of sits on the fence for me is this one however; Rose from Rosekjournals created this great cartoon spread, Nina used the spread for inspiration and credited Rose, but then another person used both their inspirations and only after prompting gave credit for the inspiration.

Copyright vs Creativity with your bullet journal
Copyright vs Creativity with your bullet journal
Copyright vs Creativity with your bullet journal

What does copyright infringement look like with bullet journals?

Well this was just unacceptable; as you can see above, Im not in the habit of Naming and Shaming but this was terrible; Jasmine created a gorgeous new spread on her feed back in October; another person recreated it, we posted on her page saying “Oh this is great, did you get inspiration from @studyquill? I love her page too!” she denied it and said there was nothing like it on Jasmines page. Well no, there was. If she had responded with – oh wow! amazing similarity (identical), and not blocked us, it would have been a different story. But flat out denial and blocking someone is pretty clear roof they got caught out in a lie.

Copyright vs Creativity with your bullet journal

Copyright vs Creativity with your bullet journal

This is one of my favorite spreads of all time, Again the creative Kim makes this incredible spread <3 the below pictures have almost closely replicated the original with the same flowers, placement, colours etc.

Copyright vs Creativity with your bullet journal


Copyright vs Creativity with your bullet journal Copyright vs Creativity with your bullet journal Copyright vs Creativity with your bullet journal


You can see more of these in our flip book/pdf at the top of the post

So please, if anything, let this be a lesson in using the creativity to fuel you creativity is essential, but don’t go being a tool about it. And if someone calls you up about it – dont get defensive, just take it in your stride and either give credit where credit is due or remove the post.

Please feel free to comment below – I think as a community this opens up some great communication and gives us some great tools to go forward with 🙂

Copyright vs Creativity with your bullet journal

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