Monday, November 26, 2012

Pictures Could be Worth a Thousand Fines


By Stacy S. Jensen

Do you use photos on your blog? Yes.

Do you know what happened to Author Roni Loren? If the answer is no, take time to read her post from July: Bloggers Beware: You CAN Get Sued for Using Pics on Your Blog — My Story

Think I’m trying to scare you? Yes, I am.

Loren, a romance writer, shares an expensive lesson about how her random use of photos resulted in a photographer asking her to remove his picture and demand compensation for its use.

This doesn’t mean you have to pay for photos. It means you should have permission to use a photo. Just because a photo pops up after a Google search, doesn’t mean it's free. There are plenty of low-cost or free ways for writers to use photos on his or her blog.

The work around to the “can I use this photo on my blog question:”
  • ·    Take your own photos with a camera phone or a real camera.
  • ·    Create graphics using iPad or Android apps.
  • ·    Ask a friend going on vacation to take pictures and give you permission to publish them on your blog.
  • ·    Visit free or low fee sites for stock images. Writer August McLaughlin shared a list of sites to search for photos in her post Blog Images Made Easy: Tips From a Non-Graphic Artist 
  • ·    Use word clouds to create a graphic.

I’ve seen some bloggers use a specific style of photo with blog posts like pictures of children, flowers or dogs, instead of finding a photo to convey a specific blog post message. Others sort through stock photo resources for the “just right” photo to go with a blog post. Be sure to read the fine print for agencies on how you can use and alter the photo for your publication.

Flower drawn in the Art Rage app for the iPad. Special tools needed — the app, a finger, an iPad and iPhoto to crop the image.

I’m somewhere in the middle in my blog photo search.  My first choice is to use my own photos. Then, there’s no question about who owns them.

I’m too disorganized to use stock photo sites most days, due to the time involved to search for photos or my inability to remember passwords for multiple sites.

During the A-to-Z Challenge in April, I found myself desperate for a picture of an elevator. I didn’t like the options a stock agency had, so I asked my brother-in-law in another state to snap a picture for me at his office. He did. In less than an hour, a photo arrived in my inbox and was ready for a blog post.

When my sister traveled overseas, I asked her to take random photos to use on my blog. When I use her pictures, I give her credit.

Credit doesn’t make it okay to use a photo. You need permission to use a photo or DO NOT use it.

I enjoy how photos enhance blog posts and add to the message a blogger is sharing. Of course, I’d rather see a blank spot than read that my favorite blogger was sued for using a photo without permission.

Where do you get photos for your blog posts?


About the Author: Stacy S. Jensen worked as a newspaper reporter and editor for two decades. Today, she writes picture books and revises a memoir manuscript. She lives in Colorado Springs with her husband and toddler.
Blog: http://stacysjensen.blogspot.com Twitter: @StacySJensen



23 comments:

  1. I was using free stock photos places, but then I needed more interesting photos like from Pinterest. I can't image if it's okay to repin a thousand times that you can't then use it on a blog. Maybe I should read their terms again.

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    1. Catherine, You need to read the terms. That's one of those when in doubt, leave it out.

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    2. Photos from Pinterest aren't safe. When you repin something you're basically saying you have a right to that photo, that's what in the Terms of Service and you (not Pinterest) are left with the responsibility if the photographer sues. These days all I pin on Pinterest are creative commons photos, my own photos, book covers, and movie posters. Anything else, no. I don't even risk repining from others.

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  2. I wonder if I have been guilty of using photos from flickr for this reason. I use public photos or getty images. Do you know if I need to do more than just give credit? :)

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    1. Clar, You need to make sure the photography allows use of his or her photo.

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    2. Clar, The only Flickr photos that are okay to use are the ones listed with a Creative Commons license (and there are different versions of that license.) or the ones in The Commons section. You can set up your search to only bring up CC photos. But all other Flickr photos are All Rights Reserved and those aren't okay to use with express permission from the copyright holder. And Getty Image has pursued people for using their photos. (That wasn't who was involved in my case, but when I researched things, I came across stories from bloggers who'd been sued by Getty.) So if you have any of those posted anywhere, I'd delete them.

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  3. Accessible post, Stacy! Thanks so much for the link up. :) Using photos safely and creating our own isn't as tough as it may seem. It's actually made blogging more fun for me.

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  4. Very interesting. I normally use my own photos, but sometimes I do an image search for just the right photo. And I sometimes purchase them at one of the low fee stock image sites. I'll be more careful after reading your post.

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  5. I did read that post last summer, Stacy. It was a good one, comments too! I usually, like today, use my own photos, but I've also used Photopin, or a free site that's good for schools titled Pics 4 Learning. There are many good ones that give permission for bloggers & students. Great post to tell this story again!

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    1. Linda, That sounds like a good resource for pictures.

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  6. Great advice Stacy. I use my own photos. I started out using free ones, but it is so much easier using my own. I keep my camera with me for any possible blog photo opportunities. :)

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    1. Coleen, You use some really fun pictures on your blog too.

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  7. Thank you, Stacy! Great post and simple suggestions. I go for walks and take pix all the time. I live with an attorney who does IP work and am aware of copyrights. August's article is helpful too. I actually wrote to a bunch of people on FB to ask how they made their posters with words. (only one wrote back, but no software info) Going to play with Power PT next.

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    1. Sue, Are you talking about word clouds or some of the photos/illustrations with quotes? There is a free software program called Gimp, which is similar to photoshop. I'll message you with the info.

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  8. Always helpful. Thanks, Stacy! BTW: lovely flower. I don't think I could do it as well as you.

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    1. Romelle, I don't know if that was brave or crazy to share it. :)

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  9. Always helpful, Stacy! Lovely flower. Couldn't have done it any better than you. May have to rely on free photo stocks.

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  10. Great post. I don't use many photos -- just book covers of books I review and an occasional Youtube book trailer to publicized a book. It's an important subject we all need to be mindful of.

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    1. Patricia, Yes. Book covers with reviews does simplify it.

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  11. I love some of your solutions, Stacy! Some ideas I hadn't thought of. I usually use stock.xchng, and it works well with no worries. Thanks for a great post!

    ~Debbie

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    1. Debbie, Thanks. I think stock.xchng is a great source.

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  12. I used to post pictures willy-nilly. Now I'm a lot more careful about where I get them. I am also taking a lot of my own and use them whenever I can - I even change or edit articles to add subtle reference to my pictures. Thanks to Stacy for reminding us of the perils of picture popping!

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  13. Thanks for spreading the word about my post. I've been using creative commons photos from Flickr and my own photos since then. Really, I've found some fantastic creative commons photos and this whole thing has also made me much more likely to snap pics whenever I'm out and about of random things. You never know what could work in a blog post. :)

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