Thursday, May 26, 2011

Are Pictures Free for the Taking?

I guess I've got a bone to pick with someone.  I know the laws regarding the internet can be very vague, but I'm getting really tired of people taking my pictures and posting them on their website (or in a recent case in their newsletter) and using them for their own monetary gain.  I can't tell you how many times this has happened to me.  And I'm sure there are some I don't even know about.  Maybe I should be flattered by it.  But I only seem to find out about it in a round about way.  And I've only rarely been contacted for prior authorization.

I work really hard to produce the projects I do, let alone edit the pictures so I can bring them to you.  I really make no money in doing this.  My purpose for doing it is to inspire you and even be able to recreate it for yourself.  And I have no problem with that.  I think we all love to share ideas.

But my question to you is this.  How do you feel about using other's pictures or other's using yours?  I know some websites are totally made up of other's pictures, and none of them their own.  A lot of times they're from major magazines and store catalogs.  But this has really discouraged me from posting at all.  I think I'd feel a little different if I had been contacted in the first place.  If you know me, I'm really very giving.  But finding out after the fact just makes me plain old mad.

I do think this is a good discussion to have.  I'd really love to hear your thoughts on the matter.  Am I wrong? Please don't feel bad of me to bring this up.  I really want to know.  What are your thoughts?  My blog from the get go has tried to be totally original, and positive.  I want it to be, well....all me.  Not anyone else.  I want it to be a good reflection of me and my style.

So please, don't hesitate to comnent.  I'd love to know your thoughts on the subject, good and bad.

PS  The picture used in this post is free clip art.

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La Dee Da Design said...

I think the civil, polite, right and classy thing to do is
to ask permission and then for gosh sake, give the person who you took the pic/idea/info. from credit for their work.
Play Nice and your business will flourish.

Nita Stacy said...

I'm fine with someone using my images and long as they give me credit. I consider it publicity. Now if they use my image and don't give me credit - that makes me upset but otherwise I figure it just drives more traffic to my blog and lets more people know about me.

Hope said...

This is my first time here and happily it was your "stop" sign on a sidebar of another site (fadedcharmcottage) that got my attention. I'm so glad it did. Beautiful blog. I can imagine how frustrating it is to not get credit. It's more trouble but have you considered putting a watermark with your site on your pics. That way you get the credit, it might actually discourage others who "steal" and it might get you some wanderers. Just a thought.

Homeroad said...

I totally agree. The least someone can do is to contact you and let you know that they are featuring your picture... I've had only good experiences so far, people have been nice enough to ask me first and I was very happy with that.
Sorry you had a bad experience. I hope people will get your message!

Simple Daisy said...

I completely agree with you! Give credit or least contact me prior to using my photographs:) I've thought about using watermarks....but then I worry that it might ruin the image!?!?? I don't really use other photos on my blog....but if I do...I always ask first!! Thanks for bringing this up!

amy of studio four corners said...

I'm in total agreement with you Lanette - I have recently been on the end of people using my photos without permission - so have gone the watermark route but have recently run across another blog using my "how-to" posts without my permission - and its hard for me to respond because its in Hungarian!
I always ask and always give credit - wish that others would do the same...

Brittan said...

i can understand how you feel frustrated and a bit violated by other peoples inconsideration about contacting/asking permission to use your photographs. i think it is one thing to repost a photo with a direct link to the site the photo is taken from and it is completely a different matter to take a photo, with no credit and without contacting the person who's photo it is in the first place.

as far as i have found out i haven't had a situation where someone takes a photo without credits, but i have had people pin or post photos on idea blogs/website about what a good idea it would be to copy my work and it can be very disheartening. i think people forget that there are real people attached to these websites and blogs. they forget that we have put time, love and energy into the things we post and share and it should be respected.

i hope that it all works out for the best and that you have something really positive happen in place of this frustrating event!

Sherry @ No Minimalist Here said...

I have no problem with someone using my pictures as long as they give me credit. I have found a couple of my projects copied on other web sites and no credit given. Frustrating!

Suzanne@Meridian Road said...

It doesn't bother me as long as I'm given credit.But. honestly? It's the internet, and you can't really regulate what someone else will do with things that are out there for the whole world to see. It would be nice if people were courteous, but you can't always get that in person, let alone online. All a person can do is behave the way they would want to be treated and have a "whatever" attitude about what other people do.

Funky Junk Interiors said...

I've installed a copyright symbol on my blog, and do ask that if they'd like to feature me, to link back. It's free publicity.

But use my photos for their own monetary gain and NOT link back and NOT address my concern when I visit them? Not cool at all. That website will get featured very soon in a not so good light unless they comply. SOON.

Places like Pinterest are becoming a problem too. Most pin to where the photo was first found. The correct way is to follow it back to the original owner, check for copy right, then pin. I'm not allowed to feature many photos from Pinterest due to BlogHer regulations of copyright infringement. And recently, Pinterest contacted me letting me know they were forced to removed some photos on their network as well.

It's a hot topic nowadays it seems.


mizdarlin said...

Personally, I would never use anything not stated to be free to use..and even then, I dont' 'sell' far as I go is to make tags for my hats and use them for that, or signs for my banners, etc.
I never use images that aren't copyright free for resale...I even buy things like old photo scrabble tiles from others and then use them for jewelry..
But i hear what you're saying..and I know many many people have their designs and pictures stolen and copied..and the resellers have the nerve to use the original artist's images as well!
It sux, but unless you pursue it legally (very expensive, and no guarantees, that) I have no practical advice to offer..
There was a time when authors were subject to this sort of thing, when no copyright existed except in your own country, so that others could publish your work and give you nothing...thankfully that has changed, but a new crop of tech just makes this sort of thing more and more complex..and an easy target for those without a conscience...

My Country Heaven Cottage said...

A friend posted this on my facebook & I think it said just what I wanted to say pretty well ... (Found this in an old journal), "it is amazing what you can accomplish when you don't care who gets the credit"
I say share what you can & if you have something that you don't want others using then Watermark it.
Give unto others & it shall be added unto you ...
Luke 6:38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.
I hope this doesn't offend anyone but life is to short to spend your time being upset with the trivial things.
If I have anything you want to use go ahead! I would be flattered to find out through the grapevine that someone liked it enough to us it. If they can make some money on it then good for them! I came into this world with nothing & I'll take nothing with me when I leave. May God Bless You My Blogging Friends.
My cup runneth over!

Heather said...

I'm stopping by from Funky Junk Interiors because the post heading caught my eye. I agree with the suggestions to add a watermark to your images. Yes, it does distract slightly and someone who good with Photoshop can erase it, but it would discourage people who take images for their own use without permission. I don't watermark everything on my blog, just the images I want to protect.

Margo said...

I'm fine with someone useing my pics if they give me credit, and better yet, a link to my site. But I like to have them ask first. I have a "note" on my blog saying that, and I've had folks ask me. I almost always say yes.
Just my 2c worth. However, using a pic on printed material withoug a nod to the author is just bad form.

Lanette of Cottage Elements said...

Thanks so much for all your comments. I appreciate every one of them. I think it is a great discussion that is needed in this internet world of ours. It is very complex, but I think the respectable thing to do is to contact the owner of the pictures/post and only re-post with permission and include a link back to the blog or website. My frustration has been from those who haven't done either.

Don't get me wrong, I'm totally all for networking. I think that's what blogging is all about. I love that! But I feel taking pictures without permission is actually theft. And I wouldn't begin to let someone into my house to take whatever they want. The same goes for my blog. The message I think I'm trying to convey here, is please, contact me first for permission, clearly give me credit and definitely link back to me. It think it's proper internet etiquette.

Heidi said...

I think the best comments in the this thread are about watermarking and about a spirit of generosity. Your marks are on the periphery of the images, easy to cut out. By making them quite transparent and more prominently placed, you wouldn't lose the meaning of the image, but it would be far less desirable for someone to use. It would probably solve a majority of the problem. Aside from that, you shouldn't publish photos on a blog that you don't want to be used by others in the way you are describing.

I also think - and forgive me for being blunt - that you are being somewhat naive in thinking that everyone across the planet is going to respect copyrights on internet-available material. It is an old mentality that is not successful with this new technology.

Lastly, I agree with the commenter who talked about the spirit of giving and receiving. When we hold tightly to something material, we are creating a barrier that in effect says, "I don't have room for new things to come into my life." As an artist I know firsthand that it leaves you stagnant on some level. What are you trying to achieve by making sure your work is recognized? Fame? Money? Recognition? Approval? Validation? Think bigger. You can have all of that and more if you open yourself to giving with joy and focus on creating a heart and spirit that will receive all the bounty that already has your name on it, that is just waiting for you.

Beach House Living said...

I think giving credit and a link is okay. It's when there is nothing that isn't good manners and it is infringement from what I understand and that you can do something about. I had someone use one of my photos in a collage showcasing there work so it appeared they made the item but hadn't.

Asking first or giving credit if you don't ask should be a given.

Lanette of Cottage Elements said...

Like I've already said, I'm really ALL about collaboration. But I do watermark my pictures and they still seem to take them without my consent or a link back to my blog with CLEAR indication of where the pictures have come from. They have in fact actually intended to pass them off as their own.

There was one instance where my work was found in a for profit store's newletter. Funny thing is a friend of mine who lives in their state got the newsletter and sent it to me. This is clearly not collaboration, this is theft. If you take something from someone else without their consent, it is stealing. And certainly I know the Bible teach against that. Being generous has nothing to do with it.

I actually looked stealing up in the dictionary and this is what it says:

1. To take (the property of another) without right or permission.
2. To present or use (someone else's words or ideas) as one's own.
3. To get or take secretly or artfully.

Please, don't think I am not a generous person who doesn't want to have my work, or anyone else's work featured on other sites. I love to work with fellow bloggers and do. But only with permission and credit.

I just think someone has got to start this discussion and educate people on the proper internet etiquette and laws.

I guess I'll end with this last little tidbit from found at which has a section on internet law:

◦Taking images from third-parties. The simple rule is, "Don't steal someone else's images." The moment an original image (or string of text) is fixed on a hard drive for the first time, it is protected by copyright. Any unauthorized copying of a protected image is an infringement of the creator's copyright, unless the use falls within one of the very limited exceptions to the copyright law, such as "fair use." In most cases, it is unlikely that the incorporation of an image into a commercial web-site would be considered a fair use.

Leena Milligan Lanteigne said...

I think that a person should not only ask permission, they should tell you what they intend to do with the picture. If you do not grant them permission, then they should honor your request and not sneak the item. We all like to share ideas, pictures, stories, etc around here - it's encouraging,inspiring, friendly and fun. I have no problem if a person takes a pic from my blog, for example, and posts it, but if it's something original to me, I want them to list me as the source. By doing this, we promote each other and everyone benefits. I have not yet put watermarks on my photos, but that may be what you have to do. This type of thing should not ruin your's or anyone's enjoyment of what we do here. Disclaimers about copyrights are most likely ignored and, like you said, internet law is sketchy. I would hope that whoever is doing this reads your post and discontinues this rude behavior.

Prior said...

I am flattered when someone posts my photos, but not if they don't leave a link back to my blog, or if they actually take credit for one of my few original ideas. I love blogs like yours that show original creativity. No one but you should get credit for your hard work, please don't get so discouraged you stop posting. and the blogs I go back to are not the copiers but the original bloggers. Lezlee

Ribbonwood Cottage said...

You have beautiful pictures that are definitely magazine worthy...I believe that is why this is happening to you. Your blog is have an amazing eye for putting things together...and yes...they should ask your permission. I'm sorry this has happened to you. Maybe put something at the very top...a statement of sorts...if you publish my pictures please inform me, ask me, tell me, call me...
You have one of the loveliest blogs around...

Thespoena McLaughlin said...

Some of my favorite blogs are "inspiration" blogs. Made up of random tidbits from here and there all over the web. Sometimes a person wouldn't see them without them being reposted, and the more they are reposted the more people get to see them and be inspired by them. I have one of these blogs myself where I keep studio decorating ideas that I want to be able to find later.

One exception to this is when I find an "inspiration" blog that has lots of these pics that belong to others without any mention of where they came from. I think that is VERY WRONG. If I am inspired enough by someones photo that I feel I need to share it, it is because I want as many people to know about it as possible so that they can be inspired too. I ALWAYS leave a link to the posts I found them on and encourage people to go and visit and give credit where credit is due.

I think it's the most horrid offense to try to take someone's photo and try to pass it off as your own idea, or try to gain money from it. That's just disgusting.

But please don't let those "takers" discourage you from posting. It's just a fact of life, if you happen to notice that kind of injustice you should always speak out and let them know what they are doing is wrong and it must stop. I've called people out before that were selling images in packs that I've seen for free at the Graphics Fairy. As well as a few other instances.

You've got a great blog and great projects. Keep on keeping on. And big Hugs!

Pink Daisys Blog Spot said...

Please don't stop blogging over this. I think sometimes people see a picture and save it and then post about it. I know a few times I have done that as well, and I said, it is not mine, and that I forget where I got the picture and I always ask, if this is yours, please send me a message so I can give that person the credit. Try putting a logo over your pictures, in the corner or something.. that way, your name is awlays with the picture and no one can "use" it wihout out everyone knowing where it came from. I am sorry you are having problems with this. Posting a picture is one thing, but if someone is claiming the picture to be theirs and are making money off it, that is wrong.

Erica said...

Beautiful blog. I can imagine how frustrating it is to not get credit. Sorry you had a bad experience.

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