Notice I don’t have a photo with this post?
Well, it’s because last week, I read this post by writer Roni Loren, warning bloggers can be sued for using photos on their blog that aren’t their own. Does that sound far-fetched? It isn’t. The very reason Roni blogged about it was because it happened to her. Like many of us, she found an image on the web, used it with her post, and went on her merry way.
Until the copyright owner of the photo approached her, demanding a sum of money for her use of the photo. Enter lawyers, money, and a very nasty situation — all because of one photo.
Like Roni, I assumed I was okay using web images under Fair Use. But as she points out in her post, even if you attribute the photo, link to the source, and post a disclaimer (among other things), you are not protected unless you have got ‘express PERMISSION from the copyright holder OR are using pics that are public domain, creative commons, etc’ (quote from Roni).
There are ways you can legally use photos, though. On Flickr, a whole category of photos are available for use through Creative Commons, as long as you attribute them to the copyright holder. And author Kristin Lamb has started a group where writers can submit their own photos for free use.
You can stick your head in the sand and think ‘it’ll never happen to me’. But wouldn’t you rather be safe than sorry?
Have you used photos on your blog without being aware of the consequences? How do you work around the copyright challenge?