Okay, I debated whether to write about this or not but then realized I was being crazy and decided that of course I needed to share. I recently read an article on BlogHer called, “Blogger Beware: You CAN Get Sued For Using Photos You Don’t Own on Your Blog” and it totally freaked me out.
If the title isn’t clear enough, here’s the reality from the author of the post herself:
It doesn’t matter…
if you link back to the source and list the photographer’s name
if the picture is not full-sized
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.
For those of you who are bloggers, you may be freaking out just as much as I am right now. Over the past year I’ve made a lot of efforts to use my own photos, or snag something that is free to use whenever possible, but I admittedly used a TON of photos illegally at the beginning of my blogging career, and even still do so a bit today (hello: ombre post! Eeek!)
All this to say: DON’T USE PHOTOS YOU DON’T HAVE THE RIGHTS TO! I personally will be spending some time over the next few weeks deleting photos that I can’t use and replacing them with photos that are okay. Sadly, this might mean than some posts totally have to go, and for that I’m sorry—I just don’t want to get a fat bill sent to me by an angry photographer!
For those of you who have no idea where to get these said photos that are free to use, let me introduce you to Flickr Creative Commons. You can thank me later.
Bloggers: will you be making changes on your blog in light of this? Or are you already waaaay ahead of me?
P.S. From this point forward (well, okay, give me a few weeks), you can trust that any photo not given credit at the bottom of the post is either owned by me, taken by me, or explicitly allowed to be used without any credit given. I’m committed!
Photo by Craig Garner