This is a no photo post. Why? Because I’m scared out of my skin. My lovely friend Holly sent me a message on Facebook last night, with a link. It was a link to Roni Loren’s Blog. She did a post….THIS POST about using pictures on your blog.
She did it all the time. Grabbed em from google, tumblr…wherever she could find em. Linked them back to where she found them, and never thought another thing about it, until she got sued.
By the photographer. He contacted her, and asked her to take the photo down, the one she had used in a post weeks before. She did, within 5 minutes.
He still sued. For a bunch of money. She had to get a lawyer, and the whole kerfuffle sounds stressful enough to cause someone to drink heavily. Horrible enough to cause someone to gain 30 pounds from eating Doritos washed down with gallons of Diet Coke while watching P.S. I love You in your ratty pajamas that
you’ve they’ve been wearing for 3 straight days. This is all guesswork of course. I personally have no experience with stress.
So, somewhere between me feeling awful for poor Roni, and a little outraged that this guy sued her, I began breaking out in a cold sweat.
I put all kinds of pictures on my blog. If I can find a source to credit them, I do. But if I can’t…..I just link it back to the blog or site I found it on.
Guess what dear friends: It’s not enough.
I’m taking the bulleted section below straight from Roni’s blog, because I think it’s information you need to have. But, if you know what’s good for you, head over to the LINK I’ve provided. There’s a lot of information in the comment section of the post.
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. (more on that below.)
So, Roni has some suggestions for bloggers like me that LOVE to use photographs.
Things to look for when posting pictures:
- Creative Commons Licensed Pictures
- Wikimedia Commons
- A subscription service to a stock photo site
- Photos that are in the Public Domain.
- Pictures that you take yourself are always ok. Unless they are of you doing the DUCKFACE. (This isn’t legally wrong, just WrongWrong).
Use sites like Pinterest and Tumblr with caution… both sites will throw you under the bus in a New York minute if a photographer comes after you wanting money for something YOU repinned, or posted. Apparently, even if you post it on Facebook. (!!) YIKES!
Roni is careful to say, it is highly unlikely that the average blogger or facebooker is going to get sued. She doesn’t say it, but she’s pretty famous. I think she had a fairly big target on her back. But still. It’s got me spooked.
When I read through the comments, I was shocked by what people had to say. Many of them were photographers, and they were outraged. Most applauded Roni for being honest, but at the same time couldn’t BELIEVE that she would think of just grabbing photos off the internet.
Here’s an example:
I am a little annoyed over some of these comments. I guess because writers (and probably other artists) are always asked to work for free and just be happy they are getting exposure. So the next time you go to the mechanic try that with them. Or when you ask your boss for a paycheck and you are told, but you got great experience from doing the work. How does that make you feel? Taking something from the internet without permission from the copyright owner, words or pictures, is stealing. Would you go into a store and take milk without paying for it? I doubt it, so why are you stealing online? This includes pics people post on facebook, unless they grant permission for others to use.
Also remember it is the copyright holder, not the person in the pic or the writer if they sold the rights to someone else.
I applaud this blogger for sharing her story. As she learned, intent and ignorance don’t matter when it comes to the law. Remember the music industry going after the grandmas and kids who downloaded/uploaded songs online years ago? It’s the same thing. Me personally, I wouldn’t have sued since you took it down right away.
And don’t feel bad about not knowing. A friend had an article she wrote copied and used on a very famous person’s website. Her professionals had no idea they couldn’t do it. My friend ended up contacting them and sending them a bill, which they paid.-Rissa
Ok fellow bloggers/photographers out there: What are your feelings on this? I had never looked at the photographer’s point of view, even though there are some photographers here on WordPress that I love and adore.
I’d love to know what you all are making of this.
- Bloggers Beware, You CAN Get SUED For Using Pics On Your Blog via Roni Loren (kaitnolan.com)
- Blogging Authors Beware! You Can Get Sued. Roni Loren Guest Blogs (pubrants.blogspot.com)
- Bloggers Beware: You CAN Be Sued for Photos by Roni Loren (jennyhansenauthor.wordpress.com)
- Bloggers Beware: You CAN Get Sued For Using Pics on Your Blog (robincoyle.wordpress.com)
- COPYRIGHT What you need to Know: Bloggers Beware: You CAN Get Sued For Using Pics on Your Blog – My Story – Blog – Roni Loren, Romance Author (harshmellowblue.wordpress.com)
- Bloggers and Photos Warning (karenmkrueger.wordpress.com)
- Writer Wednesday: On copyright, and dangerous blogging (katjevanloon.com)
These are all pretty great links if you want to know more.
- Sharing is Caring (hugs-and-chocolate.com) This one gives awesome links to fabulous pictures that won’t get you in trouble. Or cause you to eat Doritos in excess.