This post has been marinating in my phone’s Drafts section for a day or two now. So while it’s still morning, I thought to crack on this (before little one wakes up) — and as they say, “the early bird catches the worm.” Time difference in consideration, I know that for some, it might not be too early anymore. But I hope I would still catch you with this post.
I wouldn’t have known about this topic if it weren’t for Brittany at creativityarise.com, who shared ‘Bloggers Beware’ post on her blog and linked up a story with it. So thank you, for spreading this to your blogger brethren. After reading the story, I’ve just been itching to share this with you. Plus, I really like a good chitchat with you guys on this matter, because the paranoia vibe is all over me right now.
You’re probably saying yeah, yeah, we know that already. What’s this old lady (I feel old) yapping about now? Well, this is part of Roni Loren’s (writer and national best-selling author) post title on her blog, for every bloggers to see and read. Because her post is not just about copyright images — it involves all images you’re not certain about. This article revolves around her experience of being sued for using a photo from Google on her blog.
Although she’s taken action immediately once she received the take down notice from the photographer, a significant chunk of money also went down with it. And after reading the whole thing, especially the comments section, where everyone poured it out, it freaked the little life in me. Roni also laid out all the possibilities and situations in her blog that could easily put us bloggers, Pinterest, tumblr, and Facebook users in her shoes. And putting a disclaimer in our blogs/posts doesn’t quite cover us on this folks.
Here’s a big chunk I took from Roni’s helpful article that we all should pay attention to. (unfortunately since there were peeps who resorted to name calling, Roni had to close down the comments section — seriously, some people need to grow up a little.)
Here’s what we can ponder about what Roni learned about Fair Use:
It DOESN’T MATTER…
- 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.
I know blogging is supposed to be fun, inspirational for others, or a way to channel one’s raging emotions or rants, but we are also reminded to blog responsibly. Am I wrong, or too assuming about this? I hope not. Giving other credits for their work when it’s due has always been one of blogging’s golden rules. Why? Because everyone’s work is their pride and joy, and for some, their livelihood. And let’s just say, those images or articles, don’t just pop out of nowhere, someone puts all their effort and time in them.
But how many of us actually remember this all the time? I know I’m probably guilty of this myself without even realizing it (and this excuse won’t let you get away either) because as important as this rule is, sometimes it can slip from our minds when we are in our blogging mode zone, where we just can’t wait to hit that Publish button. Of course, that’s because we don’t want our followers or readers to wait another day of no post. So one image or article, gets away without us being able to acknowledge who or where it’s from. And this would happen twice… and so on and so forth. I just did a blog hop, and yes, I saw many of these images streaming through many blogs with no proper recognition of the owner’s work or the site where they’ve been pulled out.
I now have to track down all the posts I have from good ‘ol web with images, links, quotes, and see if I’ve done them right. Roni has 700 posts from the past three years, and now she replaced them all with new photos. I know I only have about 70 posts to look through, but are you ready to backtrack yours?
So how do we move forward from here? Since all the avenues we thought we’ve covered to avoid the wrath of getting sued seemed like they’re of no use anymore? As a worried Mom blogger, I shared the news with AJ’s Dad just to get his opinion on this matter and this is how it went:
AJ’s Dad: Simple, just get in contact with the company, owner, or site and ask permission if you could use their images.
Little Bean: But what if… what if you’re blogging now and you’re about to publish your post? What about that?
AJ’s Dad: Well, if you want to do it the right way, then you have to wait.
Little Bean: ….. Geez.
(As for the marinating part in the beginning of this post, that’s because I had to email Roni Loren and asked permission that I could take some useful info from her blog for this post, and gladly, she agreed. Thank you Roni.)
I’m now scavenging the net for some legit sites that not only say free images to download but also mean it. And as part of my self-learning journey, I might start doodling stickmen on Pixlr or Photoshop and will use them as visuals if they turn out well (face palm).
Can you tell that I’m one worried bean?
And from what I’ve learned from one of the comments, if you go to images.google.com, you can now see who’s got your images on what site as well.
And last but not the least, Roni pointed out to assume that something is copyrighted until proven otherwise.
P.S. While I’ll leave you with this post and questions, please kindly spread the word to your fellow bloggers.
Note: Please read more about Roni’s post especially the comments section where photographers, writers and other bloggers shared their opinion on this matter.
How do you feel about this matter? Have you come across of any post similar to Roni’s experience?
Image: from mycutegraphics.com and modified via Picsart