|Source: Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net|
Bloggers in particular, may go to Google Images and find the perfect picture to fit their article. A simple click, paste, and you're done. To be on the "safe side" you might even list a source for the picture. Being especially cautious, you put a disclaimer on your blog that may acknowledge that you don't claim ownership for all the pictures on your blog and if someone finds an image that belongs to them, they can e-mail you and the picture will be taken down immediately. That covers you right?
Let me tell you the story of self-described "casual blogger" Roni Loren. She has graciously given me permission to use her story here as a lesson and warning to others.
Roni did just what I mentioned previously. Copied and pasted hundreds of images--actually about 700 to be more exact, on her blog over a period of 3 years. Other bloggers were doing the same thing and she had read their disclaimers and had a similar one. She didn't think she was doing anything illegal.
Roni tells her story: "Well on one random post, I grabbed one random picture off of Google and then a few weeks later I got contacted by the photographer who owned that photo. He sent me a takedown notice, which I responded to immediately because I felt awful that I had unknowingly used a copyrighted pic."
"The pic was down within minutes. But that wasn't going to cut it. He wanted compensation for the pic. A significant chunk of money that I couldn't afford. I'm not going to go into the details but know that it was a lot of stress, lawyers had to get involved, and I had to pay money that I didn't have for a use of a photo I didn't need."
Roni acknowledged that she was in the wrong--unknowingly. However ignorance of copyright laws may not be a permissible defense, and as Roni's story shows, even taking the image down, after receiving a demand to do so,may not be the end of the matter.
Roni wanted her story told to warn other bloggers who may be doing the same thing. Not only did she change all 700 images on her blog but she deleted most of her Pinterest boards amongst other things.
I found another very detailed account involving a Copywriter. It's worth it to read what happened in this case: Legal Lesson Learned: Copywriter Pays $4,000 for a $10 Photo.
It is so important that people, bloggers specifically, make themselves aware of Fair Use and Creative Commons, along with areas where they might violate copyright. If you are using images, you very well better be sure you are within the proper rights of doing so or it may be a legal landmine you're walking into. Roni learned some very valuable lessons and provides some great ways to prevent getting into a copyright violation issue. Go here to read her tips.
I again wish to thank Roni for so kindly responding to my request to share her experience. It was certainly a lesson learned and worth sharing.
Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. This post is for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. Consult an attorney for specific answers to legal questions or concerns.