A Cautionary Tale

I want to send thanks to Jennifer Eaton for her latest post Bloggers Beware: You CAN Get Sued  For Using Pics On Your Blog. She referred me to the site of a woman who WAS sued because she used a copyrighted photo on her blog. It apparently doesn’t matter if you credit the photo, whether you don’t use it full-sized, whether you are not selling the picture, or even if you put a disclaimer that says you do not have the rights to the photo. If it is a copyrighted image we should not be using it in any way shape or form without compensating the person who took the photo, unless it was posted in The Public Domain and the photographer is not expecting compensation.

There are certain places where you might find photos that are in the Public Domain. The site Creative Commons  is not a search engine but offers ‘convenient access to search services provided by other independent organizations’. They don’t give any guarantees that the images that have been posted on their site are okay to use, but suggest contacting the copyright holder directly to confirm whether it’s okay to use it. There also other sites like Wikimedia Commons that hosts images under the Public Domain, if you want to look for pictures to use in your blog.

The whole issue is very troubling because it also involves many social media sites such as Pinterest, where there is often images posted that are copyrighted and ‘re-pinning’ them could put you in trouble with whoever owns the rights to it. As a result, I think I will be removing all images I may have ‘borrowed’ to illustrate my blog posts and I am reconsidering my use of Pinterest, as much as I love the site.

I am, by no means, an expert in copyright law, but as a writer I respect the fact that photographers need to be compensated for their images because it is their livelihood. I wouldn’t want anyone taking my written work and posting it without my permission, either. As for the pictures of my cards and any other photos I’ve taken and posted here, it doesn’t matter to me. I am throwing them out there for the public to use, if they want to, or simply enjoy. If they are inspired by them, great!

I just thought I’d pass along this information so you can check things out for yourself and think twice before posting someone else’s images on your sites. Thanks for taking the time to read this. Have a great weekend. 🙂

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14 comments on “A Cautionary Tale

  1. thanks so much for that – I do try to keep the images I use to ones that my daughter has done or my own pictures. I have always assumed that the ones that I upload to images in Microsoft Publisher are safe to use but I’m going to check that out as well. It’s not at all that I would ever want to cheat anyone out of royalties but the sites are very confusing so better to play safe I reckon.

    • You’re right, Diane the sites can be confusing and it is better to play it safe. I have been going back through my old posts and replacing photos with those from the Public Domain where I can & deleting others. It might take a while to go through them all, although I’ve tried not to rely so much on other people’s photos unless I didn’t have the perfect picture to illustrate a point. 🙂

  2. I am pretty careful about images. I use my own photos whenever possible. There are quite a few sites out there that still offer images for educational purposes or single personal use and have rules about how you can use them. Web publishing programs sometimes have built in image libraries and you can use those if you are using that program to upload and publish with. I think pinterest is a real problem. Even if you follow the links backward, you can’t be sure it is original source. If you write someone and ask permission they are usually thrilled to let you use their image for a link to their blog. You should probably keep a copy of their permission email.

    • It such an easy thing to do, these days, to just pick a photo from all the ones on Google Images. A lot of people figure it’s safe unless it has a copyright date on it. I guess we have to be forever vigilant. Thanks for your comment, Christy. 🙂

  3. Thanks for sharing this cautionary tale. I very rarely use other photos, but have probably crossed an invisible line a time or two. Will keep this forefront. Appreciate that you’ve reminded us.

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