This blog is just a year old, but for six years I’ve written about eco-beauty as a guest blogger elsewhere. I was a writer and photographer who knew print-related copyright law. I thought the same would apply online. Uh, no.
Looking around the web, I simply couldn’t find an answer as to what was right or wrong when it came to photo credit. I chose to play it safe and take my own, unless I was supplied written permission.
We all know credit MUST be given, but there is a lot of conflicting information, and it’s still hard to find anything written in stone.
Several bloggers I know began using original content because of this gray area.
“I’d rather play it safe and use an image I created (or that I have explicit permission to use) than make a mistake with someone else’s work,” says Claire, of The Half-Hearted Housewife, “It’s mostly just easier that way- no researching copyrights or permissions.”
Laura, of Hollywood Housewife, had the same concerns with unexpected results. “Even once I discovered the legal way to use a photo, I was never as happy with it as I was with my own creation…. So when I committed to using only my own images, I had to step it up a bit in terms of making them visually appealing, which has now snowballed into a whole new passion: photography!”
At Pancakes and French Fries, Jules always fuses her narrative with original images. I thought that as an attorney she was influenced by copyright concern, but as it turns out, “It never occurred to me to use images other than my own. That early on decision had much to do with the blogs I read. They published their own images, and therefore so did I.”
Evoking a mood, be it in a narrative or a product review post, is important to Jill, of Baby Rabies.“ I think it makes my reviews more authentic and less ‘let’s just copy and paste everything the PR company emailed.’ Ultimately, what’s displayed on my blog, both written and images, is a representation of me, and I think any time I can include a little slice of my reality with a picture, I make myself more relatable to my readers.”
For Tristan, of the Besotted Brand Blog, a mix of original and sourced content is carefully curated. “If I find a photographer I adore or an image that has taken my breath away I try to showcase it. I do try to find images that I haven’t seen other places, only because I don’t want to feel like a ‘copy cat’. I prefer the ‘treasure hunt’ part of blogging.”
Here’s the irony.
In seeking non-original content, these bloggers speak of all the work entailed in sourcing images from beyond their lens. And yet, the number one reason I hear for NOT using original content? All the work entailed in creating images behind the lens.
As I said last week, if blogging is to be taken seriously, take blogging seriously. Whether you create your images or source them elsewhere, if there isn’t some work involved in the process, trust me, it shows. But that doesn’t mean that it has to be difficult. Or lack in the creativity department. And I have a few tips on that, too.
RULE: If you’re going to use sourced content, you should contact the source for permission. But you must, absolutely positively must provide a link directly to the ORIGINAL source (Pinterest is a middleman, a fabulous resource, but not a direct source. More on Pinterest next week!). The source should be the owner of the image. Not the site where you found it. Go back as far as you can to find where it was first placed online. Give the traffic to the person it belongs to!