Using Pics on Your Blog Can Get You Sued

I’ve been blogging for a couple years now. And I know the value of a cute pic and caption. I like ‘em. They’re pretty and funny and add an extra punch to the post. I like punch :) So, I did what other bloggers did. I went to Google Images and searched for a little something to accessorize the post. Turns out, that move coulda cost me a bunch of stress, time and money. I had no idea. Sadly, ignorance does not a law suit end. Heck, if pleading ignorance could get me outta trouble, I’d be in a lot less trouble because I do a lot of ignorant things — unbeknownst to me. Until someone points it out. Then, I’m all “Oopsie.” And I stop.

Imagine my surprise last night while tweeting when I saw a link coming up over and over again about this. The agent tweeting is one I’ve followed for some time and I respect. Then, I saw the author and my eyeballs fell onto my keyboard. It took me forever to find them. A cyber friend of mine, and oh-so-sexy author, Roni Loren, was sued. SUED. For use of a pic on her blog. She drafted a thorough and clear cut explanation of what is and is not legal- based on her real life findings…the hard way kinda findings.

So, today’s post isn’t as much for aspiring writers as it is for bloggers. She says it so much better, so I hope you’ll pop over to her site, read the post and change your ways if needed.

It took me until almost 2am to remove google images from my more than 500 posts. That’s a whole heck of a lot of posts. Save yourself the trouble. Roni gives examples of wonderful ways to get pics you CAN use without worry. She’s great. Check her out. Meanwhile, you’ll be noticing weird pics in my posts. I’ve decided to use pics I’ve taken – whether or not they match the posts until I have time to check out and find a creative commons site I love.

Happy blogging :)

2 comments to Using Pics on Your Blog Can Get You Sued

  • Thank you, Julie Anne (and Roni), this is so timely! I do worry about the pictures I use and just haven’t been able to find the definitive answer on it. I’d kind of reconciled myself with them being ok as long as they didn’t have a watermark on them but realise now that was a bit simplistic. I really hope I don’t have to remove too many (but I will, if I have too). The other day I realised a line had shifted in a recent post. I took it out and found the whole blog was then misaligned and proceeded to get in such a mess trying to sort it out that it was easier to delete the whole post. I was gutted as it was one of my more popular ones and was still getting quite a few hits :( Here’s hoping I don’t lose my entire blog to a bad choice of illustration. Thanks again for a really useful post.

  • A good (and sad) reminder for everyone. As writers, we are (or at least should be) aware of the rights for the creators of written works. We just need to remember that those same rights apply to photographers and makers of art and video. I have worked for twenty-five years in the printing industry, and the same rules apply to any sort of publishing. So when I use art or a photo on my sites, I always:

    1. Use a source for royalty-free art (paid or free); check out stock.xcg at http://www.sxc.hu

    2. Check out the licensing details to make sure I am allowed to use the image

    3. Contact the artist and ask permission to use the image (if the license requires), or at the very least let them know where and how you will be using it.

    4. Give proper credit and a link to the artist’s website or gallery.

    I have received feedback from all artists I have contacted, all very cordial and excited to have their works considered, and only one request to please not use their photograph (which I complied with, of course; he didn’t like the content of my site in relation to the photo I chose).

    Again, as writers, I think this is exactly the kind of consideration we’d like from those who might want to use quotes of our works in certain ways.

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