Monday, August 20, 2012

Picture Paranoia

This is what I may have on my blog from now on
--how boring, right?
I've been reading article after article lately about the legality if using pictures you find on Google as part of blog posts. To be honest, I never gave it much thought in my early days of blogging. I pretty much assumed that if I found a picture on Google it was put "out there" by someone who knew darn well the internet was accessed by everyone and the image could be snagged. I still tried for the most part to not use images that looked like someone painted it or whatever--as in "real" art that would be up for sale somewhere in its original format. But clip art and such? Fair game. And some photos seem plenty generic and commercial. I tend to look for images that show up on multiple blogs, used inside posts the way I intend to. I never use photos that come from people's DeviantArt pages or Flickr or as a permanent image on their blog or site.

But seems like I can't get online without reading about someone getting sued by an artist or photographer for using a photo on a blog.

I have my opinion about this.

Ignorance of the law is no excuse, and we do need to respect the works of others. I sure wouldn't want someone posting one of my short stories on their blog without my permission. Granted, if they want to link to one that is legitimately published online then I'm all for it! And even taking a sample of my writing and posting it on their blog with due credit and a link back to my sites....go for it. That's free advertising for me!

If someone posted my entire novel online in a format where people can read the whole thing for free--or even worse they're charging for it and I get no royalties--well, no way. Illegal to the bone.

However, I don't see my drawings the same way. I tend to think of drawings I post online as "at my own risk"--something someone could conceivably steal although I hope that no one would try to actually sell my work as their own and if they use it on a blog they'd give me credit.

To me, the drawings I put up online are the free samples in a way. My work that you would find on Zazzle is different, of course, but then those images are on the Zazzle site, watermarked and protected by Zazzle, and I don't post them in their full format anywhere!

I suppose the issue is that now photographers and artists are using websites to sell their work, and many sites have images they have paid for as part of their web design without the artist's name necessarily mentioned. And with all these photo sharing places, there's just too much stuff out there.

What I do not get, though, is how an artist has time to sit and search online for photos that are being misused. I mean, say someone picks a photo of a cat, saves it to their hard drive, and uploads it to their blog...Is the artist/photographer going to sit online for days on end searching through zillions of online cat photos in an attempt to *possibly* find one of theirs being used improperly? I sure don't sit online trying to find my images. What a time-waster. Is this a result of our country becoming so lawsuit happy? That an artist would spend more time searching for misused images than actually working on their art, just so they can sue someone?

Anyway, regardless, I'm beginning to think better safe than sorry. And over the next however-long-it-takes, I'm probably going to go through my blog and take out any images I think could possibly be a copyright issue. I doubt I'll replace them, though. Too much trouble. I will, of course, leave all of my personal photos, all book cover images (sorry, those are fair game and come with the territory of being reviewed), and anything that to me looks like a super-generic clip-art piece (yellow "rating" stars and smiley faces and such). I also think that photos from movies aren't a concern. (Like Disney gives a flying flip if you use a movie still in a blog post-again, free advertising I'd say.)

So, there you have it. Expect my blogs to be a little less visual from now on, except for book reviews and posts with my own photos. (Sorry, istock and other photo websites, I'm not paying your membership fees.)


Caprice Hokstad said...

Free and Legal Photos may have some good places to look. It's specifically for author blogs. Haven't perused it myself, just passing it along.

Kat Heckenbach said...

Thanks, Caprice. I'm collecting all these links to places with royalty-free photos for future reference.

Unknown said...

I was struggling with this same issue for a while, Kat, especially with attribution photos - photos that require you to give the individual credit. The pictures for my blog look weird if I have text under them saying who they came from, and it pulls readers' attention away from the blog post itself.

So lately I've been perusing the Flickr Creative Commons page -

this other site -

and this site -

And when I find a pic I like, I use it in my blog. Blogger lets me create a link in the image, and so I simply link the image to the picture's original home page. When you hover over the picture on my blog, the url that shows up at the bottom of the browser window tells you where the picture came from and who made it. And then someone can click on the picture if they want to view it in its original location.

I can't go without pictures in my blog because I've been to other blogs where all they have is a lot of text and I lose interest halfway through reading an article. The pictures help to break things up.

I completely understand your fear in regards to this though. I do think our society as a whole is getting more and more lawsuit happy lately, attacking who they can for whatever reason they can find. It's sad.

Dave Loeff said...

The company that hosts my website provides me with statistics showing, among other things, who links to my pictures. Periodically, I check my stats and find that someone else is using my image. I don't mind if its url is also displayed. But when my image is used without identifying me as its creator, I respond. One form of response is to modify the image so that it shows my copyright. Another is to to request a photo credit. Still a third form would be to replace the original image with something completely embarrassing. Although, I've never used the third type of response, the knowledge that someone could is enough to prevent me from "hot linking" to other people's images.

Kat Heckenbach said...

Thank you, David...and David :).

I have always downloaded and posted images directly. Mainly because you never know what is going to happen to someone else's page, and so often I have gotten images from another blog--which used them the same way I use them--but I don't necessarily want to send people to that person's blog.

I am definitely going to keep a list of all these sites for royalty-free and creative commons photos. But I am also going to use more images from sources that don't seem to mind images being used--like major movies and such. Like I said, Disney doesn't care if I use Nemo or whatever on my blog--Disney images are EVERYWHERE. All it does is make people think "Disney! Woohoo!" and go spend more money on Disney stuff, like some sort of subliminal meme :P. I'm okay with that :).

ashley tahg said...

Talking from an photographer's POV, its crazy.

I Fully realize, if I don't have a watermark on my pictures, they might very well be stolen. Even if I DO have a watermark, they might be stolen. But, I really don't care, as long as you link back to me, and/or keep my watermark on there. No cropping it off puhleeze. I see no reason to sue folks, UNLESS they are claiming my art as theirs, or selling it. That's a no-no in my book. But still, as Loki said, "It's Madness". Craziness the way some people (MOST people) are so sue happy.

So, if you want, take any photography that's evidently mine (I don't always use my pics on My blog...but I'm trying to get in the habit of doing that more) and you can use it as long as you keep my little faint watermark. As you said, it's advertisement! lol (Plus, it would make me actually fell GOOD to see someone liked my picture enough to pinterest/blog with

Kessie said...

When I need stock art, I just use Wikimedia commons and make sure to post the attribution code thingy. Mostly I make my own content, though. If you've got a digital camera, I've seen blogs that just take pictures of random flowers in their yard, or pretty household objects, to decorate blogposts with.

Kat Heckenbach said...

That's kinda how I see it too, Ashley. On the artist side, I don't want people selling my art as their own! But posting images because they think my drawings are cool? Different story.

Kat Heckenbach said...

Kessie, the only time I've ever thought of posting a photo of my own is when I posting about what is in the photo itself. I would definitely use my own if it was relevant to my post, though.

Rick Christensen said...

Great post and an important topic. As a writer and photographer I know that anything we post has the chance of being used without our permission or even given credit. I don't have the time or energy to worry about it.
That said, I only use my photos on my blog site and only those that I have taken for fun. I do not use the images that I offer for sale.
I hope you will use more of your own photos...these days, we can take quality pics with our phones and it seems like we always have them with us. You might find yourself taking more "fun" pics.
Your photos add more interest to your writing!

Kat Heckenbach said...

Thanks, Rick! I'm glad to be getting some input here from photographers :).

Chila said...

Try MorgueFile, really. A whole slew of pics and all they ask is that you modify them a little before posting. Cropping works. And the selection's pretty good.

Kat Heckenbach said...

Thanks! I'll check that one out, too!