Bloggers Beware, You CAN Get SUED For Using Pics On Your Blog via Roni Loren

So I’m coming in late today with no particular idea for a post, so I am passing on the cautionary tale offered up by fellow author and blogger Roni Loren about her experience accidentally violating image copyright.  Go read her post.  It’s kind of chilling.  Highlights below.

Here’s what I 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.

So…if you’ll excuse me, I have 2,000 posts to check for copyright violations with images.

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18 comments

  1. I try and make sure I post either pics that are mine, or that I purchsed through a stock photography site like Dreamstime. They are a particularly good one, since they have a massive library of free pics you can download, and generous usage liscenses. You do want to read the fine print, though, just to make sure. I would hate to steer anyone wrong.

  2. I saw the link to Roni’s blog on Stacy Green’s blog. This really makes me nervous, so I’ll probably go back and delete my pics. But I don’t have the time to replace them, so I may have to put some kind of apology stating why I took them off.

  3. UGH!! Well, this stinks.. I really always try to use my own pictures… and I always give credit to the place/person I got a picture from (sometimes link back or written credit under the picture) if I don’t use mine… I guess I have some work to do this weekend..
    Thanks for the heads up!

  4. I don’t post regular pics on my blog mostly for the dial-up people, though this detail that I’d have to check all the licenses and figure out CSS for attribution (and stay on top of it) was a factor, too.

    However, I do make a lot of my own covers, and I have a bunch of pics on my computer that are organized by 1. where I got ’em from and 2. what the licensure is. I always double-check (and often triple-check) before releasing something. When in doubt, I ask and/or find another picture to use. (Bear in mind that some folks offer free personal use but not free commercial use for their images.)

    Something else you have to watch out for copyright? Fonts.

  5. That’s why I’ve always used my own pics, or those I have permission to use (i.e. NaNo badges, other people’s book covers for their guest posts/interviews).

    A recent experience for someone I know leads me to mentioning that even using templates, such as for WordPress with the default images designers include, could result in a ‘bill’ from certain stock image sites because you, the end user, didn’t pay for the license. In this case, the company who designed the templates DID pay for the license, and the usage does include web site templates, but it’s still a mess that hasn’t been straightened out.

  6. Hi Kait. As you know, I’m a photographer and I posted some useful information on Roni’s comment section that I’d like to repeat here for you and your friends. I don’t want you folks to suffer her fate.

    Here are four of the largest online microstock websites (there are many others) where you can search for high quality, professional pictures and legally purchase licenses to use them on your blog for as little as $1.00. No, I haven’t misplaced the decimal point.
    http://www.shutterstock.com
    http://www.istockphoto.com
    http://www.dreamstime.com
    http://www.fotolia.com
    You only need to purchase the smallest size in order to get something suited to use on a blog. Make sure you take the time to read the license BEFORE you purchase to make sure you understand it. If you don’t understand it, email or phone the company, tell them what you want to do with the picture and they will gladly help you. All these companies are well respected in the stock photo industry and none have a reputation for ripping off buyers. They want you to keep coming back for more.

    I contribute photos to some of those sites as well as others.

  7. Falls over dead. WHAT?! Day-um! I generally use my own stuff or lolcats (after I wrote and asked if it was all right and they said it was ok to use 3 per post but do I still have that email? NOoooo! Holy. Good to know. Thanks from the future!

    1. You need a copy of your end usage license agreement (EULA). The EULA grants you the permission of the copyright holder (the photographer or his designated agent) to use the photo for stated purposes. If you get sued for copyright infringement, you have to prove you have a valid license to use the photo. That email may or may not constitute a valid license.

      Who is lolcats and what is their authority for granting you permission to use pictures? Be careful, that’s the kind of thing that got Roni Lauren in trouble.

      If you want to be safe, reread my post above. It’s okay to use pictures you made yourself but if you aren’t paying to use other peoples’ pictures you could encounter problems.

  8. Pingback: Yikes! | Mojo Hobo

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