Copyright: Passing on the Warning

There are a few reasons why I rarely post images on this blog.

1. I’m a terrible artist. If I could draw anything more beautiful than a crooked stick figure, you can bet I’d post an image of it.

2. I’m not that great as a photographer, and in all honesty, I don’t feel like taking pictures, uploading them, resizing them, writing witty captions, etc. Sometimes I do that, but I don’t think I could do it for every single post.

3. There are tons and tons of cool images I’d like to use, but I don’t use them because I’m paranoid about violating someone’s copyright.

So that brings me to the subject of this post: copyright. I was reading Roni Loren’s blog awhile back, and she got in trouble for using a copyrighted photo on her blog. She discusses it in this post, and I learned quite a few things from her experience. The most important thing is that you can’t just find a random picture on Google, slap it on your blog, then post some generic message on your blog saying something like, “I don’t own this image; it is property of so-and-so,” even though that may seem sufficient to avoid problems.

That won’t protect you from getting sued if the owner of the image finds out that you’ve used that image without his/her permission. I guess it’s like downloading music illegally. Everyone does it all the time and think we’ll never get caught or get in trouble because “everyone does it.” But in my eyes, I suppose it’s better to be safe than sorry. After all, who wants to pay legal fees?

So before you post an image on your blog, make sure of three things:

1. You have the permission of the copyright owner, or

2. You are using an image that is in the public domain, or

3. The image is one that you have created yourself.

I’m glad that Roni wrote that post; it’s a good warning to everyone who has a blog or any kind of social media account that allows posting and sharing of images. I highly recommend that you read that post… and let others know about it.

6 thoughts on “Copyright: Passing on the Warning

  1. I don’t totally agree with this. Uphill Writing is closing in on 3 years of age, and I’ve posted borrowed graphics on nearly everything I’ve put up. I think the real argument by the “owner” of a graphic (this is hard to really know because most of what I borrow has been borrowed any number of times before), is that if you are making money with the post (or the site), and the graphic is pivotal to that process, perhaps. I find that adding a caption of the URL from which the graphic was taken seems to do the trick. I’ve got over 3000 posts, and more than 212 thousand page views, and never as a person complained about using their graphics.

    I think, more to the point, they like the linkbacks.


    1. I think it depends on the individual person. Perhaps some are fine with a linkback, and others want you to actually buy the picture, not just use it for free. Some don’t mind if you use it without attribution, etc. But better safe than sorry, I’d say. It’s not something I personally want to risk.


  2. All very true, and further complicated by fact that some people post photos and say they are free for others to use, but the image actually belongs to someone else.

    Richard’s point is true – your chance of getting in trouble is slim if you’re running a non-professional blog – but you are leaving yourself open, particularly if the images don’t fall under “fair use.”


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