When I started blogging, Mr. Theriault, my English Honors 2 teacher, told the class to use large pictures for blog posts. He also said something that I still remember about today: copyrights and fines. He had said that we were using these blogs for “educational purposes” and that we would be fined for “educational purposes,” making it seem like fining students for a learning process look ridiculous. I wasn’t very satisfied with that answer. So, hopefully in this blog post, I’ll be able to elaborate more on this subject and prevent other bloggers from being fined.
Mr. Theriault lightly touched on this subject, which inevitably got me interested on how I should protect myself and how to warn others of carelessly using images. The main go-to source bloggers use for pictures is Google Images. I used this simple and easy tool as well, but I read a blog post by Roni Loren that helped me earn a better understanding of how bloggers can get sued for using copyrighted photos According to the “Blogger Beware: You CAN Get Sued For Using Photos You Don’t Own on Your Blog” (wow… this title is way too long, but at least it’s straightforward?), there are multiple mistakes that blogger make while choosing photos and there are ways to protect yourself from getting fined.
Using a simple disclaimer doesn’t protect a blogger from violating copyright rules. A common disclaimer that Loren has identified from many blogs is:
“THIS BLOG claims no credit for any images posted on this site unless otherwise noted. Images on this blog are copyright to its respectful owners. If there is an image appearing on this blog that belongs to you and do not wish for it appear on this site, please E-mail with a link to said image and it will be promptly removed.”
This method obviously doesn’t work because Loren tried it and had her blogs taken down.
You know the saying “Smart people learn from their mistakes, but wise people learn from the mistakes of others? Well, this was why Roni Loren made her blog post. She lost about 700 blog posts because she had used images that belonged to someone else. I wouldn’t want to lose any of my blog posts because they’re my window to the past and neither would any blogger on the internet.
I quote straight from Loren’s blog post, she says that it doesn’t matter if:
- if you link back to the source and list the photographer’s name
- if the picture is not full-sized
- if you did it innocently
- if your site is non-commercial and you made no money from the use of the photo
- if you didn’t claim the photo was yours
- if you’ve added commentary in addition to having the pic in the post
- if the picture is embedded and not saved on your server
- if you have a disclaimer on your site
- if you immediately take down a pic if someone sends you a DMCA notice (you do have to take it down, but it doesn’t absolve you.)
It kind of depicts the owners of these pictures to be selfish, but it’s their art and their gateway to their intellectual thought process. You can’t buy or steal someone else’s ideas because that would be the same as plagiarism.
You can get this straight from Loren’s blog post, but I’m going to give a list of tips on how to protect your blogs and your bank account.
1. If you are using images without the artist’s approval, then there is a chance that you violated the copyright rules. I suggest you go through your old images and switch them with images that are okay to use.
2. Look for photos that are approved and can be used. Try being creative and taking your own pictures. Or, you can use photo search engines like Creative Commons. When you open up Creative Commons, pick one of the 13 locations for images/videos and then type down what you are looking for. Another way to get images without any danger is by going to Google Images, click “Search Tools,” then choose “Usage Rights” and pick one of the following.
3. Using images from Tumblr, Instagram (get it? Tumlbing and Insta-fines? title puns? I’m so lame at jokes 😀 ), Pinterest, and DeviantART with caution because most pictures on these websites have most likely have ownership and will charge you for using their pictures without consent.
4. If you’re not sure something isn’t copyrighted, don’t use it because it’s better to be safe than sorry.
5. And lastly, tell all your fellow bloggers about the dangers of using unauthorized images. It’ll save a lot of people from drastic fines and the heartache of losing beloved blog posts. “Protect yourself and respect the rights of other artists,” Loren said in her blog post. Feel free to share or ReBlog my posts to spread the word or go to Roni Loren’s blog post where I originally got my information. I thank Roni Loren for helping other bloggers like me protect themselves from being fined and for letting me share her content.