Yesterday, friend and author, Amy Rogers, sent me a link to a recent account by a blogger who was sued after posting a copyrighted photograph. In this case, attribution and a willingness to take down the image were not enough. The photographer demanded compensation – “a significant chunk of money” – for the use of the photo over several week’s time.
Anyone who grabs or has grabbed pictures from Google images or related sources should read blogger, Roni Loren’s story. http://www.roniloren.com/blog/2012/7/20/bloggers-beware-you-can-get-sued-for-using-pics-on-your-blog.html
As I first read through the post, my thought was, “that’s nasty,” with a head shake for the litigious society we live in. Then, as I scrolled through the comments, I saw several photographers say they were sick of seeing their images used without permission. Regardless of anyone’s opinion, this is how it is.
Fortunately, Roni Loren provides some good info and links on finding millions of pictures that are okay to use. Two sites in particular are Wikipedia Commons and Creative Commons. Here is an exceptional article by Megan Ward on finding photos on Creative Commons and what the various usage codes mean.
I used Ward’s guidelines to search for replacements for several landscape photos in an earlier post, and found 60 nice ones to choose from, licensed by the artists to Creative Commons, with simple conditions like attribution and links to a website.
The first link given above, to Roni Loren’s article, references a Wikipedia article on public domain, with websites for literally millions of images bloggers are free to use, arranged in dozens of categories. I clicked on one link of public domain photos from WWI, and was pleased to recognize the site I had used for an earlier post on the Christmas Truce. In general, copyrights are time limited, but research is necessary.
I had already learned to read the fine print in books I set out to review. Some allow you to quote small sections for review purposes and some do not. This is a similar exercise and one that is clearly just as important.
Many thanks to Amy for bringing this to my attention, and to Roni Loren for sharing her painful experience. She urged other bloggers to pass it on, so consider doing so.