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.
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.