Six pages into notes on photo attribution, I realized I had a lot on my mind. This was never going to be explained in one concise post, but I found myself with a number of things to talk about – from legal issues to practical ones, sites to bookmark and articles to recommend. Hence this installment of If Emily Posted is called PART ONE.
FACT: Anything image you take and place on the internet is yours under legal copyright. Even on Facebook or Instagram, whom you given the OK to do what they will with your images (you know you give them that permission by signing up, right?) – but you still own the copyright.
FACT: As a writer, photographer and editor, I know what Fair Use is and how and where it applies. It’s part of my job. It is important you know what it means and you use it correctly. The same goes for Creative Commons licenses. (Even if you think you understand these things, review them. Or ask me about them.)
FACT: I’m a photographer. If I saw an image of mine on your blog, that would be copyright infringement. Even if you credit and link to me. (I’m not suing anyone, just making a point.) Unless you have expressed written permission, using someone else’s images could get you into trouble.
I’m not telling you to get a lawyer, but I want you to know what belongs to you and what doesn’t. This isn’t just for bloggers. On flickr and Facebook and beyond, people are making these mistakes. (I’m not even going to address sites like tumblr at this point.) We all make mistakes. I make mistakes. But once we know we’ve made them, we need to fix them.
OPINION: Although there are exceptions to this rule, you’re not giving someone exposure by using their image on your site. Not necessarily. Take a look at your blog stats and the number of clicks that an image gets in comparison with your traffic. Who’s getting the exposure, honestly? (As I said, there are exceptions.)
I would say that approximately 98% of my visual content is original, minus YouTubes I embed. And any image I do use that isn’t mine I check to be sure falls under a Creative Commons law that allows me to do so or I contact the source for permission.
Because it’s the right thing to do. The professional thing to do.
I believe that whether or not you have a revenue-generating site, you have to be treat it with respect. I write this having some friends and colleagues who are fabulous people, but I watch them doing seriously unethical stuff. And I think most of it they’re unaware because without rules sometimes people don’t realize they’re breaking any. Or they simply think it’s not such a big deal.
You know the people that scoff at blogging? That think it’s silly? If blogging is to be taken seriously, take blogging seriously.
I know, it’s more work to make your own stuff, but people visit your site because they want to see your style. Your POV.
A few times, I haven’t posted pieces because I couldn’t come up with an image to place with it. That’s the print-media brain at work. You can’t get away with such things in print work. Let’s apply similar thinking online.
Friday I’m posting my advice on building a stock image library of your own using a smartphone or a point and shoot (nothing fancy) and some great apps and programs that make it easy. I swear it’s super easy and doesn’t require much time.
While I’m already putting it together, I’d love your feedback before I finish. Do you use an iPhone? A point and shoot or DSLR? Do you have a Mac or PC? I’d love to give as many resources as possible so everyone can realize that a couple hours a month (not a day or a week, a month) can give you a ton of original images to work with. xo a.
P.S. Most blogs I read I come upon by recommendation or they belong to someone I know. For all my love of design, I only recently began reading Grace Bonney’s Design*Sponge. I’d read a few posts here and there, and follow on twitter, but I only just learned that she talks blog etiquette. This makes me ridiculously happy. I highly recommend this post.