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Don’t Get Sued: Blogging Images

  Posted by Jean Oram , 24 July 2012 · 306 views

Author Roni Loren got sued for blogging. And you possibly could too.
What happened? On her blog, she used photos off the Internet that she assumed she was free to use. And one specifically was not. And she got sued. Sued for much more than she made from that photo. (I mean, how many authors get paid for blogging?)
Many of us bloggers use images (that includes photos, cartoons, graphs, etc.) that aren’t ours to use. I’ve been guilty of it.
Have you?
During the past year I stopped using questionable (rights-wise) images and have since removed questionable ones from my more popular archived posts. And today I went through and took every image that was not mine, not a logo (such as the Twitter logo for my Twitter posts), or an author press image, or a book cover off my site. I made sure I got every one. And it took hours. Seriously. I couldn’t just go through the media area of WordPress because my blog was that old. I had to look at every post. Ugh. I even deleted images I had credited because I wasn’t sure I did it correctly or that these images were up for using in the first place. (Do read Roni’s post if you haven’t already.)
Have you checked the rights of the images on your blog and deleted ones you aren’t sure about? Do not pass go, do not collect $200. Do it now!
Off The Cuff Things to Think About:
  • Do you know for sure that the rights for the image you want to use are written such that you can use it freely on your blog? And what happens if your blog evolves into what might be considered a “commercial” site and that image is still in your archives?In other words, what are the usage rights for the image and are you following them and will you continue to follow them in the future? As well, you may have poached a great image off Google or off another blog assuming it is okay and that you can credit the person you poached it from. But the thing is… where did that image originate from? Was it “stolen” in the first place? And how do you know for sure?
  • Book covers, author photos, and logos are likely okay if you are using them in a non-derogatory way. For example, reviewing a book or product. Author photos taken from their “media” page on their website are there for people like you to use. Don’t use the kegger image you found on that famous author’s bitter ex-girlfriend’s Facebook page. That one might get you into trouble. The reason you can use these mentioned items in unmodified form is that you are helping them spread the word–i.e. promotions–which makes them generally free to use. There can be exceptions to these, I’m sure.
  • Consider making your own images. In other words, create your own sayings on the image you took of your own cat. Yeah, it’s going to take more time, but it is yours. You may have noticed that I have been doing that with some quirky photos I’ve taken, or a quote from someone famous, or my own made up stuff. It’s mine. And if I do it right, maybe it will spread and help me publicize my blog. Maybe. And then again, maybe it will simply serve as eye candy for my readers which is goal #1.
  • If you do choose to make or upload your own images, consider “stamping” them with your blog’s URL. That shows that you claim ownership over it and that there will never be any dispute about ownership if it goes AWOL. And if it does take off and leave home, it will be like free advertising. (Please feel free to share mine if I have my blog URL on them! In my case it means they are free for sharing.)
  • Google has an image search where you can search for images like “yours.” It’s an easy way to find your images that you fear may have gone AWOL or as a way to simply see how far and wide your images are going. Hmmm… book covers? That could be fun! (To use this feature, perform an image search on Google. I did a “Jean Oram” search which brought up this photo of me (see below). You can hover over the image in the search results and click on “similar” which will have shown up under the image. Or, if you click on one of the images in the results you will see to the right of the page a link that says: “search by image.” Click on that to see the results I have shown below. You can also get fancier with your searches and do things such as upload the image you want to compare against–like those nude photos your ex swore he didn’t upload anywhere.)
Posted Image
This is me using Google’s Similar Image Search. You can see where my AgentQuery Connect profile pic has shown up online. All places I know about. However, think how a photographer may use this feature. As well as… what do you have on your blog?

Whatever you decide to do… be safe. Don’t get sued. And make sure you read Roni’s story as she has some fabulous tips and ideas on how to stay on the safe side of blogging. Plus, she has many of those tiny details you might be looking for as well when seeking out fair use blogging images.
How about you? What do you do about the images on your blog? Any advice, tips, resources, etc?
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Don’t get sued! Author @RoniLoren‘s story and tips from @JeanOram. jeanoram.com/blog/2012/07/2… #authors #writers #bloggers
— Jean Oram (@jeanoram) July 25, 2012


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