Pub Rants

Blogging Authors Beware! You Can Get Sued. Roni Loren Guest Blogs

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Re-posted with permission from original blog post here.

Sara, our lawyer,and I all helped Roni through the situation but here is the whole story below.  You can no longer say that you haven’t been warned!

Guest Blogger: RONI LOREN

So today I’m forgoing the usual Fill-Me-In Friday post to talk about something that I’ve been wanting to blog about for a while but couldn’t until the situation was wrapped up.

For those of you who are super observant, you may have noticed some changes on my blog over the last few months. Tumblr posts went away. Fiction Groupie disappeared. I deleted most of my Pinterest boards. The Boyfriend of the Week has changed format. And all my previous posts from the past three years–all 700 of them–now have new photos on them.

Why is that? What happened?

Well, you’ve probably figured it out from the title, but it’s because I’ve been involved in a case regarding a photo I used on my blog. Like most of you, I’m a casual blogger and learned my way into blogging by watching others. And one of the things I learned early on was that a post with a photo always looked nicer than one with just text. So I looked at what other people were doing for pictures. And mostly it seemed that everyone was grabbing pics from Google Images and pasting them on their sites. Sometimes with attribution, most of the time without. And when I asked others (or looked at disclaimers on websites and Tumblrs), it seemed that everyone agreed using pics that way was okay under Fair Use standards.

Here is an example of a disclaimer I found on a bigger site (name of blog removed):

THIS BLOG claims no credit for any images posted on this site unless otherwise noted. Images on this blog are copyright to its respectful owners. If there is an image appearing on this blog that belongs to you and do not wish for it appear on this site, please E-mail with a link to said image and it will be promptly removed.

And site after site had the same kind of thing. Just look on Tumblr, that same type of disclaimer is on a ton of them. And I’m thinking–well, that must mean it’s okay because if that weren’t true, sites like Tumblr and Pinterest couldn’t even exist because reposting pics is the whole POINT of those sites. So off I went doing what everyone else does–using pics from Google Images, putting a disclaimer on my site, etc.

Well on one random post, I grabbed one random picture off of google and then a few weeks later I got contacted by the photographer who owned that photo. He sent me a takedown notice, which I responded to immediately because I felt awful that I had unknowingly used a copyrighted pic. The pic was down within minutes. But that wasn’t going to cut it. He wanted compensation for the pic. A significant chunk of money that I couldn’t afford. I’m not going to go into the details but know that it was a lot of stress, lawyers had to get involved, and I had to pay money that I didn’t have for a use of a photo I didn’t need.

It wasn’t fun. But the fact of the matter is, I was in the wrong. Unknowingly. But that doesn’t matter. And my guess is that many, many of you are doing the same thing I was doing without realizing it’s a copyright violation. So I wanted to share my experience so that you can learn from my mistake.

Here’s what I learned about Fair Use:


if you link back to the source and list the photographer’s name
if the picture is not full-sized (only thumbnail size is okay)
if you did it innocently
if your site is non-commercial and you made no money from the use of the photo
if you didn’t claim the photo was yours
if you’ve added commentary in addition to having the pic in the post
if the picture is embedded and not saved on your server
if you have a disclaimer on your site.
if you immediately take down a pic if someone sends you a DMCA notice (you do have to take it down, but it doesn’t absolve you.)

NONE OF THAT releases you from liability. You are violating copyright if you have not gotten express PERMISSION from the copyright holder OR are using pics that are public domain, creative commons, etc. (more on that below.)

I didn’t know better and I had to learn the hard way. So I want to let you all know now so that you don’t have to be a cautionary tale as well.

Plus, beyond not wanting to be sued, most of you who are reading this are writers. Our livelihood depends on the rights to our work. I’ve already had to send my own DMCAs to sites that have pirated my books. So I definitely don’t want to be someone who infringes on someone else’s copyright. A photo is someone else’s art and unless they tell me it’s okay, I don’t have the right to use it.

So what can you do?

1. If you’ve been using images without approval from the internet on your blogs, know that you are probably violating copyright and could be sued for it.

Is the chance high? Probably not. Is it possible? I’m proof that it is. So you may want to consider going through your posts and delete pics that aren’t yours.

2. Search for photos that are approved for use.

  • Creative Commons licensed pics — You can search for photos that are free to use (with some restrictions) through Creative Commons. Usually this means you have to attribute the photo to the owner and link back to their site. (All of my posts now have pics that are under Creative Commons license. And there are actually really great photos available.) Meghan Ward did a fantastic post on the breakdown of creative commons licenses plus listed some other photo sources.)
  • Wikimedia Commons offers free media files anyone can use.
  • Buy a subscription to a stock photo site — This can be pricey up front but then you have access all year. There are also sites that you can pay per pic. (Here is one example of a subscription service. Thanks to Janice Hardy for that suggestion.)
  • Use photos that are in the public domain.

3. Take your own photos and share the love.

Almost all of us have camera phones these days. Instead of just taking photos of our family, think of images you could use on posts. See a stop sign. Snap a picture and save it. Whatever. And if you want to give back and not just take–open up a Flickr account (here’s mine) and list your own images as creative commons so that you can share the love. (You can set it up to where whatever pic you load from you camera is under that license.)

4. Use sites like Pinterest and Tumblr with caution.

I have read way too many terms of service over the last two months. And I’m not a lawyer, so the legalspeak can be confusing and I am NOT giving legal advice. BUT both Pinterest and Tumblr (and most other social sites) say that if you load something into their site (i.e. Pin It or Tumble it) YOU are claiming that YOU have a legal right to that picture. And if the owner of that photo comes after the company, you will be the responsible party. And Pinterest goes so far as to say if you REpin something, you’re saying you have the right to that photo. Yes, if that’s enforced, it would mean that 99% of people on Pinterest are doing something illegal. Will that ever come up? Maybe. Maybe not. But I’m leaning on the paranoid side now. I don’t want to be the test case. And I don’t want to pin something the owner of the photo wouldn’t want pinned.

So pin your own photos, pin things from sites that have a Pin It button (see discussion in comments about the Pin It button, it’s not always a safe bet either.) I pin book covers and movie posters because I figure that it’s advertisement for said movies or books. But other stuff? All those pretty mancandy photos? I’m going to look but not touch.

5. Assume that something is copyrighted until proven otherwise.

That’s your safest bet. If you’re not 100% sure it’s okay to use, don’t. This includes things like celebrity photos. Someone owns those. There are enough free pics out there that you don’t need to risk violating someone’s copyright.

6. Spread the word to your fellow bloggers.

It was KILLING me not to be able to go tell everyone about all of this because I didn’t want anyone else to get into this kind of mess. So if you know someone who is using photos in the wrong way, let them know. I wish someone had told me.

So I know many of you are probably thinking–she’s being paranoid or that the likelihood of this ever happening to you is slim. Well, maybe. But it happened to me. And now that I know better, I’m going to do better (yes, I’m busting out an Oprah quote, forgive me.) And yes, it does kill me a little bit that I can’t go on posting boyfriends of the week and mancandy, but instead I’ll just post links to it so you can see it elsewhere. 🙂

So lesson learned: protect yourself and respect the rights of other artists.

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69 Responses

  1. Miss Knight said:

    A friend from twitter posted your blog. Thanks for the information. I have to go through my blog now. I don’t know how long it’ll take, but I appreciate the information.

  2. Blue-Eyed Girl said:

    Wondering if this applies to including quotes on your blog. Last night on my I quoted Ted Geisel. Listed it as his quote and all, but should I take it down? Anyone know?

  3. Dave Kuzminski said:

    Which is why P&E requires authors to provide their own banners or cover scans for use on P&E in the new books section. We do try to always respect copyright even though others have used some of the editor’s written work elsewhere and some of those should have known better, especially when it’s a newspaper. So please take the guest blogger’s advice and akways respect copyright.

  4. Anonymous said:

    This has worried me ever since I started blogging some even years ago so I have never used an image – and that includes videos -without the agreement of the creator. The one photo on I have used came from a friend and I have her agreement in writing.

  5. alex said:

    Would popular .gifs widespread on tumblr from TV shows and films need to be taken down? I’ve seen that stuff duplicated and recreated all over tumblr, and people don’t seem to care much, but I wonder how safe it is if you were to post one on your blog…

    I think book covers on review blogs would be okay though.

  6. Bonnee Crawford said:

    It’s really sad that an innocent blogger can get into so much trouble over a picture. But I understand where the owner of those photos are coming from 😛

  7. Amy Rhime said:

    Great points here about copyright, and I’m sorry to hear that you had to learn the hard way. Just wanted to bring to your attention that (ironically) you’ve miscredited that quote to Oprah, when credit is due to Maya Angelou.

  8. Anonymous said:

    I’m sorry this happened to you.

    While the photographer was legally in the right to ask for a huge sum of money because you used his photograph, I think he is an absolute jerk to do what he did.

  9. Anonymous said:

    Well, Anonymous, I supposed I’ll be anonymous as well and tell you that the photographer was asking for payment for the use of his services. We don’t go to the gas station and use their gas then call them jerks when they ask us to pay for it. If we unknowingly pump gas, we still have to pay for it. It is sad that the blogger had to pay money that she didn’t have, but as she says, she was in the wrong. My work gets stolen and used, and whenever I can track down who is stealing my images, I also ask for compensation. It is fair to be paid for my work and my time creating my work. I am glad that she is spreading the word so that others don’t make the same mistake and break the laws.

  10. Natalie Aguirre said:

    Roni, thanks so much for sharing this. I’m so sorry for what you’ve had to go through. As an attorney, I can imagine how stressful and expensive it’s been. It’s making me glad I don’t use Pinterest though I wanted to sign up.

  11. Deborah Blake said:

    Thanks for sharing this. I tend to stick to my own pictures and book covers (if I’m blogging a review). Boy, am I glad of that now.

    Pinterest is very worrisome, and I have been considering not using it at all. It could get very tricky…

  12. T C Mckee said:

    Yikes!!! Thanks so much for posting this. I had no idea either. I should tell my daughters about this. They’re constantly posting pics to their Tumblr’s. I’m afraid their allowance will not cover legal fees.

    Thanks again!

  13. Anonymous said:

    Does anyone know if reblogging on Tumblr counts as infringement? I have only been on it a few months but read that reblogging is fine since it links to the original blogger. If that is not the case, I don’t want to reblog ever again! Thoughts or knowledge on the subject?

  14. Taffy said:

    Thanks for the great post! I’m going back through my blog now! And sorry you had to learn the hard way. I’ll take your advice and learn from you.

  15. Anonymous said:

    I agree with Anon 1:45am. You use their work, you should pay compensation for it. The only thing jerkish about this situation is infringing on another artists work.

    I’m sorry this happened to you, Roni Loren, and that you had to learn the hard way. This is something I learned during my first semester of college when we learned how to use the Internet and find credible sources. We also learned a little about copyright and what we can and can’t use without permission, so I’ve known this since my first days of college and have never forgotten that information. I use images that are explicitly free from free image sites or I take my own photos, photoshop them, and use them (which I love to do).

    I’ve seen many writers ask these types of questions about pictures and song lyrics and quotes from other books, etc. My answer to them is to ALWAYS consult a lawyer. NEVER get your legal advice from some random stranger on the Internet or from someone who’s not an Intellectual Properties attorney. If the layman giving you advise is wrong then YOU’RE going to be the one being sued, not them. But alas, most people ignore my advice, mostly because they probably can’t afford to consult a lawyer or don’t want to put in the effort to do so. I can’t say I care, because I won’t be the one getting sued, if it ever happens to them.

    Alas, lesson learned in Roni Loren’s case. Unfortunately, it’s the hard way. I’m wondering if it cost more to pay for the use of the photos (and lawyer to solve it) than it would have been to consult a lawyer beforehand.

  16. Anonymous said:

    As an artist AND a writer, I’ve had my illustrators used and posted without my permission, well, constantly. There’s one on tumblr with tens of thousands of reblogs. Is there any credit to me on it? No. People have tried to fix it by adding notes to the bottom or links to my site, but the reblogs come from the journals who don’t give credit. Worst of all, the image was altered (severely cropped), so it’s not even an entirely complete piece! I’ve yet to report it (I’ve done that with other heavily reblogged pieces with no credit to me), but it bothers me so, so much when I think about it. Because when I post my own work, I get a dozen or two reblogs at most. That’s it. Imagine if credit was on the picture getting circulated in front of THOUSANDS of pairs of eyes. Frustrating doesn’t even begin to cover it.

    Unless someone’s benefiting monetarily from illegally using my illustration, or they’ve used it in promotional materials or invitations or something else much greater than a blog post, I would never, ever demand compensation. I’ve known professional designers who were also in a situation where their work was used without permission, but they usually warn first, and only sue if the person does not cooperate or has used it and made money.

    Still, in an age of Pinterest (which I despise because, again, I get a lot of pins without credit) and Tumblr, it’s good to make people aware that credit goes a long way. And better still does permission. (I do hold most of my art within creative commons licensing so people are free to use it for non-monetary gain but, again, for every generous, thoughtful person are ten people who take my work and do whatever they want with it.)

    Tumblr is not simply a free stock photo site, and neither is Pinterest.

  17. DeniseCovey _L_Aussie said:

    Great that you’ve shared this. It’s a minefield out there knowing what’s free to use and what’s not. I take thousands of my own photographs and usually use those, but it is too easy to grab a google image. Strangely I’ve found some of my images on google images. How did that happen?

    Anyway, I’ve been contacted by google a couple of times – once when I’d had a picture up a year ago. So there are a couple of scary groups whose job it is to scour the blogs etc for copyright infringement. So it’s a great idea to take down even old blogpost pictures as you’ve done.

    Oh I see the dreaded Captcha Codes, grr.


  18. Anonymous said:

    Im sorry it was wrong to post a copyrighted photo…but it was taken down and no harm was done. He wanted an obscene amount of money and got exactly what he wanted. Its called greed. You dont want your photos being displayed by others properly display that they are copyrighted oh and maybe keep them off the internet. Just saying. You dont want it shared then dont put it out there to be shared. Theses opinions are mine and solely mine. Sorry I think it is a bunch of bs. Going after someone for money when they put themself in the place to have their stuff displayed via internet.

  19. Ted Cross said:

    What always bugs me about this type of story is that it makes no sense for most owners of a photo to get upset that someone used it in a non-profit blog, because it basically serves as free advertising for the owner. I myself have discovered artists that I have gone on to buy prints from due to first stumbling across one of their pics on a blog. If that pic hadn’t been there, I may not have ever discovered the artist.

    Would I want someone taking my entire novel and posting it somewhere? Right now I don’t mind (I have it posted myself on Authonomy) but when I’m a published author I wouldn’t be as happy. BUT, I would be thrilled if anyone excerpted my novel in their blog posts, as I would see that as free advertising, not as ripping me off.

  20. Jaxbee said:

    This question has always worried me as it’s so difficult to get the definitive answer on what you can and can’t use and there is no question, blog posts do look more inviting with some illustration. So, I really appreciate the post and am off to work out what is, and isn’t, safe to leave up.

    It would be so much easier if search engines had some simple device to show what was free to use and what wasn’t. I’ve been working off the theory that I could use it if it wasn’t water-marked but I realise, now, that this was a little naive.

    Many thanks to Roni and all concerned for the post.

  21. Anonymous said:

    Anonymous 7:03 PM,

    you said: “You dont want it shared then dont put it out there to be shared.”
    What makes you think that the photographer was the one who put it out there? Just the fact the the photo is available on the internet doesn’t mean that the owner put it there; on the contrary, comments above show that photos are often copied without the owner’s permission or knowledge.

    Also, may I ask how you reached the conclusion that: “He wanted an obscene amount of money and got exactly what he wanted.”

    Ms.Loren wrote only that “He wanted compensation for the pic. A significant chunk of money that I couldn’t afford.” The fact that she couldn’t afford this sum of money doesn’t necessarily mean that the photographer was asking an unreasonable amount for the use of one insignifcant photo; he may well have been asking for his usual fee for allowing his work to be used, many sucessful professionals can and do charge significant amounts for their work.

    Since Ms.Loren does not deny her liability, I am assuming that the legal debate was to settle on a fair and reasonable amount of compensation. Perhaps the photographer was asking for too much, perhaps he was too angry about the unauthorised use of his work to see Ms.Loren’s side of the argument, perhaps he even wanted to make an example out of this, so that it wouldn’t happen again.

    If the last is true, it certainly worked. If the whole thing had stopped with Ms.Loren’s taking the picture down, if she hadn’t gone through this worrisome and expensive process, would she be making such a point of warning others?

  22. Gail Roughton said:

    Fabulous post. Personally, I’ve never posted anything other than personal photos, book covers of guests (and mine, of course), and photos taken and provided by guests illustrating their blogs. I’m not tech savvy but even if I was, I wouldn’t use any other images for these very reasons.

  23. Mary said:

    I find this whole thing completely ridiculous. I just deleted thousands of pictures from my blog because of this BS. What about all those sites that do nothing but post pictures found on the internet..why are the photographers going after them?

    If you post a picture online you should EXPECT it to be copied and posted at other places. A blogger should not be able to be sued for thousands of dollars for posting a picture they found online.

  24. Lorrie said:

    I loved the thought of everyone posting free pictures that they have taken with their cameras for their own use. Or even free pictures they have used from different sites.
    Ones that won’t get us into trouble if we reuse them. I can see a page on Pintrest with “all these pictures that are here can be used by the permission of the creator.”

    Aah, if only someone would start the share page.

    Moi? I’m an absolute computer illiterate and still trying to figure out how Pintrest and Good Reads work.

    Any volunteers? We can spread the word and ask for free pins on FB.

    Or maybe this is a stupid thought.

  25. Anonymous said:

    I think the photographer was greedy and should have been satisfied when Ms. Loren took down the photo. Personally, I think copyright laws are the terrible combination of way too strict and sporadically enforced–the online equivalent of a speed trap.

    The photographer needs to find a better way to make revenue, rather than hunting down bloggers and suing them. How petty. Or get a different job. Or realize times are a-changing and the internet is a place where ideas are freely shared. The blogger wasn’t stealing your work–she was promoting it. And her intentions were good. To the photographer: be a better human being and have some understanding for fellow artists who are also not rich and trying to share their vision with the world.

  26. Danyelle L. said:

    *sympathy cookies* Roni.

    I admit that I’m a little perplexed that so many advocate copyright infringement on pictures/photos/illustrations. Just because it’s on the Internet does not mean it’s free to use.

    As an author, I would be upset if someone was posting my novels, in part beyond fair use or in whole, without my permission. I would NOT look at it as someone promoting my work–especially if they also failed to attribute it properly.

    So many authors get upset by literary pirates, why shouldn’t artists get upset when people pirate their work?

    One of my goals in writing is to be able to earn enough to support myself. Why on earth should I get a different job or feel complimented (or promoted) if someone steals my work? What’s good for the artist is good for the author. Shouldn’t the creator have a say in how and where their work is displayed?

  27. G. B. Miller said:

    I know a couple of fellow writers who were seriously concerned about posting pics on their websites because of not being able to properly credit the photog in question, and they took it upon themselves to replace the photos with ones from a royalty free photo service.

    For me, I basically use photos that I’ve taken in the past three years, and recycle when I can.

  28. Anonymous said:

    I’m an author. I’d hate it if someone posted my fiction online without compensating me… after all, I make my living off my fiction.

    Even if someone posts something and takes it down, I know from experience it will still be up. Bots or who-knows-what will have copied it and it will still be available online. Content spreads exponentially. Once on the internet, always on the internet.

    Seems like we writers ought to be sensitive to this issue if anyone is.

  29. Anonymous said:

    Thank you so much, Roni, for sharing the details of your unfortunate experience…AND for the very good advice. I’m just launching a new blog and I’d been blithely (and foolishly) picking out photos from Google Images and thought “Oh, if I crop it, change it, just use this corner of it, it’s OK to use, b/c it’s not the same as the original, entire image.”
    Well, DOH!
    Back to the drawing board, and to Flickr and Creative Commons!


  30. Beth said:

    THANK YOU for posting this! I’ve been wondering what to do, and had even started attributing pics.

    Time to start finding CC replacements…

    I did have a law firm show up in my stat counter re: a photo I’d used. Nervous perspiration ensued.

  31. Anonymous said:

    I have to be honest I’m quite surprised by how many authors seem to think that this is unfair and the photographer is being outrageous. As if the guy doesn’t have the right to deserve a living. It’s only free advertising if the poster links back to the photographers website. I have never seen this in all the author websites I’ve visited. I’ll bet that these are the same authors who screech so loudly about ebook piracy. Seems like it’s ok to infringe someone else’s copyright but how dare anyone infringe their copyright.

  32. J Q Rose said:

    This is all so confusing. Do I understand it is okay to use CC license and royalty free pics? I use my own photos a lot on my blog, so I imagine some of them have been copied to other blogs. If I were a professional photographer, I would definitely want compensation for a photo or at least attribution. I think we also have to keep in mind music on trailers should not be used without permission and/or attribution.

  33. A. M. Perkins said:

    If you have a bit of drawing or graphic design experience, I suggest just making your own graphics.

    Whenever I post something on my blog, I just make a quick sketch/doodle and give it a dash of color in Photoshop with a brush set to look like a watercolor. Takes about 15 minutes and has a loose style I like – and avoids any copyright unpleasantness.

  34. Anonymous said:

    I’m going to have to join the people calling BS on this one.

    Sorry, but as someone said above, the times are changing and thanks to the Internet piracy is rampant and cannot be stopped.

    How many bloggers do you think there are in the world? Millions? Billions? How many of those do you think would ever give two sh*ts about copyright law? Not a lot. And unless some kind of totalitarian dictatorship is implemented to control the Internet it will remain virtually (haha) impossible to enforce those laws.

    Instead of wasting time and effort trying to stop piracy, people should be spending their energy constructively in finding new models of revenue upon which piracy has little or no impact.

  35. Anonymous said:

    Wow, I removed all the pics from my bog just from having heard this.

    Btw– who is this photographer? Does he have a name? I’d like to bash him on his guestbook for his petty lawsuit.

  36. Anonymous said:

    By the way, litigious assholes like the anonymous photographer are ruining this society. I would love to have a chance to flame him.

  37. Terri Main said:

    Okay, using that disclaimer, I guess I could take my neighbor’s car without permission as long as I put a sign on the car that says, “I claim no credit for owning this car. It really belongs to the registered owner. If you own this car and do not wish me to use it E-mail me and I will return your car.”

    Or maybe if someone posts a book you wrote without your permission on their website but put “I claim no credit for writing this book. Someone else did that hard work. they own the copyright, but I’m going to post it here anyway. If they see it and want me to take it down, after it has already been distributed to thousands of potential paying customers, I will.”

    As someone who will be depending largely on the sale of my intellectual property, I understand why someone expects to be asked before someone publishes that property.

  38. AJ said:

    I use my own pics on my accounts, but then I am pic taking freak… lol

    Although, it does make me realize that I may have some photos that people may want to use and I would gladly give permission.

    So I want to thank you for letting everyone know, and bringing my attention to the fact that I can possibly help my fellow writers with some worry free photos.

    Thank you!
    AJ Kelton

  39. Jeff Kent said:

    I just removed the pictures from my site. Thank you for this wake-up call, and very sorry this happened. The photographer sounds like a jerk.

  40. Anonymous said:

    I’m genuinely sorry Ms Loren had to go through this, but I thank her for acknowledging that she was in the wrong.

    It’s infuriating to see that there are still people commenting on this who are demonizing the photographer, or people who think “it’s a technological age, get over it” is a sufficient excuse for theft. You can tell those people don’t have to rely on the sale of their IP to get by.

    There are plenty of fantastic analogies above me, but consider this:

    If I took photos of you going about your day (eating, sleeping, in the bathroom, etc.) and posted them online, would you shrug and go “well, I should expect that. It’s a technological age we live in,”?

    No, of course not. It’s an invasion of your rights and of your privacy.

    There are artists who would be very happy to settle for a link or written credit, and that is why their work comes under Creative Commons. There are also artists who DON’T want their work used like that, and that should be respected.

    The internet has been both amazing and catastrophic for people’s IP. Whether it’s through ignorance, like this example, or the security of anonymity, people have forgotten that artwork/imagery doesn’t just appear on the internet, it was created by a person, and it BELONGS to them.

    Before you go flaming artists for daring to put their work online because “they should expect to have it shared around,” consider that it wasn’t them who put it there in the first place. Consider also, that you should be able to go about your daily lives without worrying that someone will take your things (your picture, your car, your children, etc.) and do things with them that you wouldn’t want done.

    And to those people who are daring to say “get another job,” ok, we will. Every creative person – from your favourite artist to your favourite author – will cease creating what we do because YOU aren’t willing to respect our wishes. Happy now?

  41. Anonymous said:

    I use morgue file, most are totally free to use with no attribution even for commerical purposes. But, I always give attribution anyway. Their guidelines are explicitly spelled out so their is no confusion.

  42. Anonymous said:

    Do you know if it’s safe/legal to use photos from Photobucket? My website providers already have a link in place for PB use when I need a photo. Now I’m worried.

  43. Kristine Nielson said:

    If you put things up on the internet, you really should lose the expectation that people are going to adhere strictly to copyright. That’s why I don’t put anything up publicly on the internet that I want to be paid for or acknowledged for.

    The suit sounds like awfully trollish behavior. Good to know about, since I suspect most of us wouldn’t think about doing it and so are at risk of running into it unexpectedly.

  44. Anonymous said:

    Let’s get one thing straight … free advertising is only worth it if the venue in question is ComicCon or the beginning of a StarWars movie. Otherwise, it’s worthless.

    Someone using an image (especially if it’s not linked back) is NOT free advertising, it’s copyright infringement, plain & simple. Grow up and deal with the fact that professionals deserve to be paid for their work and that includes artists and photographers.

    Rant over. Now the helpful part.

    A LOT of artists and photographers are fine with you using their images on your blogs if you ask first. Really, we are. If you find something you like, track down the owner and fire them an email. I almost always give permission when asked and when I don’t, it’s due to the contents of the blog being contrary to my beliefs, not because I get my kicks by being a big old meany pants. The worst that will happen is that you’ll receive a politely worded “no”.

  45. Anonymous said:

    “As someone who will be depending largely on the sale of my intellectual property, I understand why someone expects to be asked before someone publishes that property. “

    YOU PUT YOUR PICTURES ON THE INTERNET! Do you not understand the concept? There are people who code their picture so you can’t right click them to save as, or link to them directly. THAT is what you do if you want to keep the picture all your own. Otherwise, don’t put your picture there. It’s like parking your car with the keys in it in a giant lot for FREE CAR SHARING. That’s the equivalent of what you’re doing.

    You people really are like patent trolls. Repulsive.

  46. Anonymous said:

    This is such good advice. I have been pretty careful by buying my pictures at a stock site but still even then there are some restrictions– sharing and the extent of using the photographs.

    It brought to mind the authors I have guest post on my site. They often bring their own photos, which honestly up to this point, I didn’t ask where they obtained them. I think I’m going to request information about these photos now, because even though I am not the author of the blog, it’s my blog site and carry the liability.

    Great information!


  47. Anonymous said:

    Obviously the photographer had the right to ask the blogger to take the photo down and does own that right. But remember that sites like Scribd post full books without the author’s permission. See In the suit, Scribd was said to not be violating copyright because they provided a method to have the document removed upon request. It is not all that straightforward.

  48. Janiel Miller said:

    Thanks very much for this post! I’m sure most of us bloggers are just as innocent and naive about the internet and copyright law.

    I do have two questions:

    1- I’ve started trying to use commons.wikimedia for pictures, and most pictures say they are licensed for anyone to use as long as the owner’s specific attribution requirements are followed. But most of the time the owner’s link takes me to Flickr and I can’t find the requirements. What then? Can I use commons pics from wikimedia or not? I can’t tell.

    2.- What is the purpose of Pinterest? I thought it was okay to use because the photos are all linked back to the owner’s sites. But if you can’t pin random loveliness, what, pray tell, is Pinterest for? I’ve already got my own photos. I don’t need to pin them. Anyone?

    Hope everyone has a nice, stress-free evening.

  49. Anonymous said:

    This is really helpful information!! A scary thought, but it just makes sense to me. Photo is art. Thank you Ms. Nelson! I hope you don’t mind me spreading the word on my facebook status! I don’t have a blog yet, but I’m working on it! If I do blog, it will probably be blogspot. 🙂
    Kayla Jones, aspiring writer

  50. Anna said:

    THANK YOU for sharing this! I have a blog sharing old photos from online collections, and I’m super conscientious about copyright– if it isn’t clearly marked as public domain or licensed for non-commercial use, I can’t and won’t use it. The pics I do use I always source, with links. I don’t mean to be all self-righteous about saying that– I don’t think enough people realize it’s what you have to do, both legally and morally. There’s lots of blogs that share great old pictures and other things, but they often don’t have the right to use the pictures– I’ve looked at their sources sometimes (when they’re even noted) and sometimes it’s clearly stated that you have to pay to use these images, and caption it with [whatever copyright info they want], and the blog clearly hasn’t. It isn’t fair to do that.

    I’m sorry that the poster found this out the hard way, but at least it helps to raise awareness. I find it rather sad that so many people don’t understand and/or care how copyright works for images– it needs to become common knowledge.

  51. Anonymous said:

    There are a lot of ridiculous, unfair comments here.

    Maybe only visual artists should be commenting on this entry, because I’m seeing a lot of meanspirited, nasty comments about us.

    How are we supposed to promote our illustration/photography/design without putting it on the internet? I slap watermarks on mine but people edit them out. Even though I explicitly say not to! It would be like stealing the words of your novel and not giving you credit. It’s vile.

    I’ve lost tons of exposure because people take my artwork and do not credit me. Tons. Thousands and thousands of people do not know who I am but have seen my artwork–and it hurts. It hurts a lot. I’m a nobody. My platform is short. But if people credited me, if people asked my permission, I could have a stronger base of viewers.

    People trace my artwork, as well, or credit to themselves. That doesn’t need to happen. Stop blaming the victims. Stop saying we’re asking for it. It’s silly. It’s rude.

    Just go find stock photos or ASK PERMISSION. You’re not being told to shut down your blog. Just to be considerate of other people. Is it that hard to do?

    Thank you for posting this, Kristin. And to Roni, as well. I wish more people took it to heart instead of taking offense.

  52. Virginia Llorca said:

    Had a run-in cuz of aPinterest re-pin. I attributed on my own but she emailed me (y’know how they ask you for that and SAY no one will see it) cuz I didn’t link back to the original site. That info was not available to me and I took the illustration down. What I could find by googling the available info indicated it wasn’t her design. Somewhere back in the Pinterest ether, someone lifted it from her blog. If someone is worried about infringement, then REQUIRE them to use the copyright logo on their work. Copyright is a constitutional right but you should have to indicate you are wielding that right if you are going out into the cloud and Ethernet.

  53. Virginia Llorca said:

    Ownership is different than having the rights to something. Copyright possession is a Constitutional right that implies we know about it. Anyone concerned about someone using their work should be REQUIRED to post at least the copyright logo. There is at least one author selling books right now who has been publicly exposed for her heavy duty plagiarism. Books still selling. I had a Pinterest run-in. I attributed but didn’t link back. I told her I didn’t know how and just took it down. Intellectual property law is a hot button issue right now. Can’t hold up in this environment. Will change. Someone calls you on it–challenge. Meanwhile play nice.

  54. Sherry Lynne said:

    I’m so sorry that this happened to you.

    I’m a little late and a dollar short to the discussion, so my apologies. I found your blog while I was researching internet copyrighting. What I’ve found is just about evertthing on the internet is under copyright, whether expressly stated or not. Not only text, but graphics, code, email, you name it. Exceptions being places like Creative Commons, Wikimedia/Wikipedia etc. When I write, either for myself or someone else, I always use a link to get the photos into my copy. One can’t be too careful; if it’s not your orginial work, always assume that it is copyrighted by someone else.