Avoid Copyright Issues

A couple weeks ago I read a post about a blogger who is going through some expensive legal pains due to some pictures posted on her blog. I wish I’d remembered to save her link, but her situation has stuck in my mind as I navigate the do’s and don’ts of blogging.  Its clear that she didn’t intentionally steal pictures, but used pictures found on google. It seems to be what many successful bloggers do. She even took an extra step to credit where she found the pictures.

It seems this isn’t good enough to protect yourself from copyright laws.  Even if you don’t make money from using the picture, you must get the artist permission before posting or things could get ugly eventually.

When I started blogging and researched what to do for pictures, many bloggers strongly recommended taking your own pictures. Most strongly encouraged it for the sake of originality. I didn’t want to spend money on a new camera when I started, so I tried own various styles of amateur illustrations—No one can say I took that.

Now, considering copyright laws, I’ve learned a few ways to get the artists permission for images found online, though, to save time, I’m motivated to make my own original images.

Here are a few things I learned that I hope will help others along the way:

Things to remember when using other people’s images

  • Know and understand copyright law regarding pictures/images. Wiki How’s explanation was the clearest and easiest to follow. One thing that stood out was “Don’t take anything from the internet, almost everything is copyrighted by default.”
  • Get permission from the original artist/creator of the work. Stanford University offers great instructions on ways to get permission. I could be wrong but tracking down the original owner of the work seems tricky and more time consuming. More work than I’m willing to put in. I’d rather figure out how to create my own image and be safe.
  • Pay for stock photos

Ideas to create your own images:

  • Take your own pictures–Get a camera, or use the one on your own cell phone (these take decent pictures now days) and try to capture an image that really speaks to the information you are relating in your blog. If you like an image you saw online, find away to recreate that (not exactly, but your version) and take your own picture.
  • Get in touch with your inner artist: Try to draw or paint an illustration that captures the heart of your message or story. Personally, unless the photo on a page is breathtaking or very adventurous, I’m more quickly drawn to the posts with art, drawings, or paintings. I wonder if the case is the same so many other readers?
  • Try a new App: There are plenty of mobile apps that let you add text and designs to images. Pic-See is the one I’ve used when posting word art on my account. When doing quotes, I’ll take a picture of an all-black object to make a background
  • Try a comic: I’ve recently discovered Pixton. It’s a website that lets you create your own comics. I haven’t found it easy to use, but I’m getting better. Here is a peek of an image I did there. It’s for a story I’ll be posting in the next day or so.Lucky dog walk

Discovering ways to create my own art has slowed my writing a bit as I find my preferred styles. In the long run it should keep me safe from copyright issues. Along the way, I’m learning so much about photography, painting, comic making, and I’m having fun doing it. I even feel inspired to get to a point where I could one day illustrate for others. I’m not there yet, but I one day. . . one day.

If I could, I’d Miss Him.

img_69265 years old:

I stood and stared, for hours, out of the window of our New York apartment building waiting for my father to show up. It was my birthday. He never showed up. I don’t remember much about New York, but I remember looking out of that window for a long time. I remember waiting.

6 years old:

We moved to Georgia. My mom, my two sisters, and me. I only think about my father when people ask. We have a step dad, but I don’t know where my father is.

12 years old:

I’m pretty good at not thinking about my father. Years have gone by, and he doesn’t cross my mind. I don’t even remember what he looks like, and I don’t care. He obviously doesn’t care about me. I don’t care about him either.

17 years old:

My sister asks, “Have you ever thought about finding your father?”

No. Why would I try to find him, he’s never cared about me.

She asks, “What if he did find you?”

It doesn’t matter. It’s too late. Why would he care now? Why should I care?

28 years old:

Maybe I should find my father. I, at least, need my medical history. Nah, forget it. I don’t care.

36 years old:

My sister finds my father’s son, my half-brother, through Facebook.  My sisters remember him. I don’t. I guess I was too young.

I learn that my father died when I was about 9 years old. On his death bed he told his son and daughter, “you have a sister, find her.”

I learn that his wife, their mother, didn’t want him to have anything to do with me. I get her disdain. I was a reminder that my father cheated and had a child with another woman. My father had to sneak to spend time with me. Sometimes he could show up when he said he would, other times he never showed up.

Mom didn’t know why he was sneaking to come see me. His sporadic visits, sometimes unannounced, worried her. She feared he was going to try to kidnap me. She got a job offer in Georgia and left without leaving any contact information.

41 years old

It’s Father’s Day, and I’m trying not to think about my father. . . again.

It makes me cry to think that I spent so many years angry at him. I wish I knew more about him.  I try to understand my mother’s fear and her decisions.

I wonder how things would have turned out if he’d communicated a bit more. If mom wasn’t so scared.

All this is pointless. He’s gone. This is all past. Why cry over the past?

I try not to think about my father again.

Forgiveness. Perspective. How I Came to Love My Mother


“She’s not my mom. She just gave birth to me.” That’s what I told the judge. I was 13 yrs old and had recently run away from the children’s home. He gave me the option to go back, live with my mom or put myself in foster care.

Going back was not an option because I was afraid of the consequences of running away and then landing the children’s home in court.

My mother was there. I stared at her across the table in the small court room and wondered why she came.  It made me angry to see her.

Where was she when I’d sent letters begging her to come get me? Why didn’t she believe me when I had complained about the children’s home?  After 5 years of leaving me behind, why was she acting like she cared now?

I put myself in foster care and for the next 2-3 years ignored my mother. I hung up on calls, returned letters, and behaved horribly toward her anytime she decided to drive four hours from Atlanta to visit me.

I guess you could say I wasn’t a forgiving child. I didn’t understand why she sent me away but kept my sisters. I’d Imagined they had a nice little family unit in Atlanta. Mom, Stepdad, and two older sisters that for some reason didn’t want me around.

If you’d told 13 yr old me that I’d grow up and have mom, retired, living with me, I’d have laughed at you. If you’d told me that I’d love her, worry about her, miss her when she took vacations to visit my other sisters, I’d have thought you were crazy.

When I was around 15 or 16 years old, mom had a stroke, and one of my sisters called my foster home to let me know about it. I declined her offer to take me to see mom in the hospital, repeating, “She’s not my mom. She just gave birth to me.” My sister showed up anyway.

On the drive to Atlanta, I complained about going to see her, about mom in general, and about my life until my sister slammed the breaks and pulled the car over.

“Will you shut up!” She said. “You’re not the only person that’s been through things. You’ve people who love you, you’re getting an education, you’re going to go to college. Me and your sister didn’t get to do that. We got put out and had to live with whoever would take us in.”

Without their permission, I can’t provide details of what my sisters went through. Just know that I’ll never forget that ride to Atlanta. I felt more grateful for my life and my mom’s choice to send me away after hearing some of the things my sisters went through as they tried to make it on their own at the ages of 14 and 15.

Some of what I learned though is that when mom made the decision to put me in a home, she was working 3 jobs and relied on my sisters to take care of me. At the time, I was 7 yrs old, they were 13 and 14. They were skipping school, doing drugs, having physical fights with my mom, and doing things that I imagine many unsupervised teens do.

When my mom caught me stoned at 7yrs old she made the decision to get me away from the environment. In her eyes, it was too late to help the teenagers, but maybe sending me away would help me.

By the time we got to Atlanta, I looked at my mom a little differently. I remember telling her, “I don’t know if I’ll ever see you as my mom. Mrs. Myra, my foster mom, is who I see as mom, but we can try to get to know more about each other, and try to be friends.”

Mom agreed, and from that moment, she never pushed it. She never tried to tell me what to do, tell me what’s best for me, or go overboard in being a mother to me. She gave me time, space, and advice as needed and over time we grew closer and closer until finally one day, I’m not sure which day, I accepted her as mom again.

Now mom is 72 yrs old, and I’m 41.  When she retired it was important to her to come live with me because she wanted to spend the time with me that she didn’t get to spend with me as a child. Though I’d lived alone for quite a few years and was very unsure of how this would work out, how could I say no to that?

Now looking back, I realize the pain I must have caused when I said, “She’s not my mom,” and ignored her attempts to reach me. I wish I’d never done that. I wonder if she ever thinks about that hateful and hurtful time of my life and I hope she doesn’t remember it as clearly as I do.

Today, on my mom’s birthday, she is off visiting my sisters for a few weeks, and I miss her so much.

I find myself reflecting on all of this, and I’m grateful.

Grateful for the time I get with my mom that I didn’t have before.

Grateful for how things worked out despite the hard choices she had to make.

Grateful for that drive to Atlanta, when my sister taught me the lesson that no matter how hard you think you have it, there are always other people going through worse.

Grateful for the lesson that there are several sides to every story. As a child, I thought my mom’s decisions were horrible. From my mom’s point of view, she was doing the only thing she knew at the time to help me and my future.

Grateful for forgiveness, perspective and love.

Share Your Best Blog Post

I’ve really enjoyed the insights and quotes shared on Make It Ultra. I’m so impressed that he’s invited so many to share posts on his page.

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Relationships Like Checking Accounts

Piggy bank

Recently I heard someone explaining the key to having good relationships and friendships, and they compared it to a checking account.

Once you’ve established an account, you want to make sure the account stays in the positive and that it grows over time.

Your account grows by making consistent positive deposits, and always depositing more than you withdraw. I think in a relationship deposits would be time spent together, making time for lunch, laughing together, nice gestures or gifts just because.

Think about it, if you withdraw or take and take from an account, with rarely any deposits, eventually you will be overdrawn and you will suffer serious negative consequences.

We’ve all known a taker. Someone who never contributes to the relationship, but just needs, or wants something from you all the time. Or someone who’s always close to over drawn. It never ends well.  We don’t tend to stay in relationships like that very long. Sometimes constant withdrawals become more than we can recover and its time to end the friendship.

Thinking about the friends I’ve had over the years, I can see it. My most special friends consistently make positive deposits into the friendship account. They remember birthdays, listen when you need an ear, drop what they are doing when they see you need a shoulder to lean on. They deposit more than they withdraw.

I wonder how they see me as a friend. Am I in the positive or am I overdrawn.  I wonder how I can make more positive deposits with those who mean most to me.

Mom’s Curious Foot Condition


English is not mom’s first language and though she can speak English well, she sometimes gets her words mixed up.

When teaching people how to crochet, she will often point to a book and tell them to look at the diaphragm.

Sometimes she helps with groceries and buys paper toilet for the bathrooms and Fruit of the Loops for breakfast.

One such mix up that I cannot let her forget is when she had to go to the doctor about her foot.

She’d been experiencing pain in her foot for 3 weeks. One morning as she hobbled through the kitchen taking what seemed like tiny one inch steps, I finally convinced her to go to the doctor. 

“What’d the doctor say about your foot?” I asked when she returned home.

“I have a sperm in my foot,” she said.

“Uh. . .a what?”

“A sperm,” she said again.

“Well how did THAT get THERE?” I knew what she meant to say, but now I couldn’t help how funny this conversation was turning out to be.

“I don’t know how a it happens mí híja, he said it’s a bone sperm,” she said.

“Are you sure he said ‘sperm’?” I’m sure I was grinning, smirking, trying not to laugh.

“Yes, he said sperm! A sperm!” she fussed not understanding why I was so amused.

“Well that is next level freaky mom, I’m calling your daughters!” I remember laughing as I called my sister, “Hey guess what’s wrong with mom’s foot? She’s got a SPERM in it!” Me and my sisters then discussed all the possible ways a sperm could have gotten into her foot.

Eventually I stopped teasing and tried to get my mom to say “spur,” not “sperm,” when referencing her foot condition. However, old habits die hard, and even though this incident happened years ago, I know that today if I ask her “Hey mom, what was that problem you had with your foot?” she will probably say she had a sperm in it.

Quick Check in for my Readers

Posts should resume by Friday, May 26.

My laptop is currently lying upside down trying to survive a cup of southern sugary sweet tea. While it dries out throughly I am traveling for a couple of days. 

We will know Thursday if the laptop survives or if I get to upgrade (do I sound to excited about that?).

In the meantime I’ll be reading and commenting on other’s blogs, and maybe a short post or two from my phone 😬.

Have a great week everyone 😬.