Thursday, August 9, 2012

Beware of Copyright Infringement

I received a complaint this week from a photographer whose image I used for a picture prompt on Real Toads last year without permission.  Fortunately, he insisted only on its removal but he could have brought a law suit against Real Toads.  Artists who use the internet, poets among them, are all too aware that it is something of a double-edged sword: our work would not be known if we did not post publicly, but our material may be wrongfully used if we do.

I have added a disclaimer the bottom of our home page, which does not, in itself, protect us from being sued, but merely states that our intentions in using images are not for profit, but for artistic value. I undertake to go back through our posts, and with the help of willing members, to remover or replace any questionable images. I will also be doing this on my own blogs.

Many poets feel that an image enhances the reading experience of their work. The following sources have been suggested as legitimate picture pools, though it must be said that Photobucket is open for abuse. Anyone can upload an image that does not belong to them, and use it under the auspices of the common licence :

Wikimedia Commons
Flickr Creative Commons
Wiki Paintings

If anyone knows of other sites offering free images, please include a link in the comment box.

The photographer who made the initial complaint has shared the following article with us, and it is something all bloggers should read and take very seriously. Ignorance of the law is no defense.

Bloggers Can Be Sued


Scriptor Senex said...

You are always welcome to use photos from my blogs (my photos, that is). I like an acknowledgment but it's not essential.

(My blogs are listed in the sidebar of my main blog - Rambles from my Chair).

Kerry O'Connor said...

Many thanks for your offer, SS.

Fireblossom said...

Poems on a blog are pretty clearly by the author of that blog, but images without watermarks or copyrights on them could be from anyplace. I still say that expecting to control use of an unmarked image on the internet is like spitting in the wind.

Regarding poems, before i knew about blogging, I posted my poems on a forum for a couple of years and at a site I belonged to which no longer exists. Several of my poems and stories got plagiarized. I suggest Googling your own work from time to time in order to discover if this has been done. I was successful in getting all of them removed. And I didn't have to sue anyone, but I did have to threaten to, a couple of times.

Janine Bollée said...

Hiya Kerry,
A subject close to my heart:
I know it makes me unpopular, but I go one step further: I avoid blogs that use images they have not made themselves.
These days there is little excuse for not owning a camera of sorts. Taking photographs is hard work. I find the sweat dripping of me. Mine sometimes take an additional 8 or 9 hours of handling afterwards.
It is so easy to just grab another person's work and show it off to enhance your own blog.
Even just a scribble with a crayon delights me if it is the blogger's own.

Taking an image from somewhere and not asking permission, but waiting until a complaint arrives and then finally remove it, is not commendable either.
My pictures are mirrors of my soul and mood, and I am happy to show them, even though I loathe having to spoil them and put copyright marks on them.

I know you don't like 'grumpy' comments. but maybe this time your topic warrants it?

If not, feel free to remove.

Unknown said...

Bit of a tangent - but I found it interesting that you said many poets prefer to have their poems accompanied by an image. As a reader,I'd prefer not to have an accompanying image, at least on first read. Though its always interesting to see how the poet visualized it later of course. Great work on this blog.

Kerry O'Connor said...

@ Aprille. I do not mind "grumpy comments", nor do I consider your opinion as expressed here "grumpy" at all. I do not like personal attacks on other people within this forum.
Having said that, you make a valid point about bloggers grabbing other people's work to enhance their own blog. I do appreciate, however, that many of us fit blogging in to our limited spare time, and cannot devote several hours to capturing exactly the right shot to go with a poem.

@IcyHighs. I know where you are coming from too. We are all so caught up in a world inundated by visual media, that we feel the need to add something to a poem, when our words should serve as imagination enough. Food for thought.

Susan said...

Kerry, Thank you for handling this complaint so quickly and so well. It will not be difficult to be careful--though it is true that when I have tried to buy a cartoon I wished to re-post, for example, it took quite a while for the artist to respond. That wasn't friendly to a teacher making lesson plans for tomorrow. To stay legal, planning ahead was necessary. I resisted posting any of my own work at first because of fear of being seen, but later because I couldn't understand how to retain my rights to my own work. I think having conversation around these issues--sharing our stories--every now and then would be a positive step. I'm actually too new at this to have stories! Imagine that.

Teresa said...

I'm so glad you've shared this and the link you provided was wonderful. I know I really need to watermark my pictures, but the work to do so (especially to go back) seems daunting. I quit using Pinterest the first time I saw a blogger credit a photo to Pinterest. I didn't want to be the one responsible for someone's work being stolen.

izzy said...

I am very careful about credits if I use a photo or painting.However
I was cautioned a long time ago and am glad to have the names of sites to borrow from! Thanks.

Jennifer Wagner said... a good site too.

Hannah said...

I'm grateful for the list of other places to access free images, Kerry!

I often love to use my own when I have one that works but sometimes I don't have ones that when I need a picture of a zebra or something exotic! ;)

Thank you, for your efforts everyone to make sure we stay on people's "happy-list"...up and creatively functioning.

IGRT has great karma, though always good to play it safe.

Smiles to all the Toads!

Leovi said...

I do not care that some poets nonprofit use my photographs to accompany their poems. But if I want to put the source photo and advise me to read the poem. Greetings.

Anonymous said...

I do all my own art work (pretty much), and have a very limited presence on the Web as I'm not much read, but even I've seen one of my images stolen and used. It was a bit weird! An elephant and dog. I love it if people use them but I would like to have credit. Particularly since I have a little book of elephant paintings, which you know, is very hard to get exposure for as it is. k.

Helen said...

I have used images without giving credit .. will be careful in the future. I have also requested permission from more than several artists and photographers .. permission always graciously given!

Thanks Kerry!!

Ella said...

Thank you Kerry,for all you do...
It is a slippery slope. I think for awhile I will try to take my own photos. I didn't today with PUnited, but it concerns me. Thank your for keeping us in the know and allowing us this forum to discuss it!

Anonymous said... and offer some free photos. If you click on the image, most will tell you specifically if it is for free download or not. You need only give credit.

Anonymous said...

wonderful of you to do this post, Kerry!

i probably use Wikimedia Commons at least once a week because i love using artwork/paintings in addition to photographs ~ and they specify if the image is in the public domain or can be used under a Creative Commons license. i always credit the artist/photographer and link back to where i found the image. many artists/photographers will allow use of their images if asked politely and credit given; and many sites like flickr, deviantART, twitpic have images with "some rights reserved" under a creative commons license.

thanks again for doing this post!

Sharp Little Pencil said...

Kerry, thanks so much for this. I read the article and my eyes were opened. I've always given credit, including a link, back to the artist or photog (even the organization, if they didn't specifically credit the photog), but that's not enough. So I will only use images I am given from now on... I wonder whether reproductions of masterpieces, such as the Mona Lisa, are covered under this? Hate to have the daVinci family after me!! Amy

Unknown said...

Hi Kerry. thank you for letting us in. Actually, some of my travel articles in the Manila Bulletin (a major newspaper in the Philippines) was used in some blogs without permission and without due credit. They removed my name. I googled them and found out that they copy them but forgot to put my name. I don't know how to get pics in the creative commons, yet, but when I do, I'll remember to be careful.Thanks again.

Kerry O'Connor said...

Thanks to all for your positive response. I have added a new tab to the top of the home page: "Copyright" which should cover both our contributors and reply to those seeking redress for any image we have used erroneously.
I will also add a Tab for the listing of Creative Commons source material for easy access to all RT contributors, as well as our members and followers.
I would like all members of Real Toads to undertake to use images from the internet in accordance with fair practice.

flipside records said...

I think it is a compliment to the artist to display their artwork. If it were me, I would love my work to be splattered in as many places as possible. But I'm sure I'm in the minority.

Thank you for sharing the article. I have removed most of the images from my blog.

Ostensible Truth said...

oh how ridiculous, talk about a frivolous suit! we'd all be better just not posting anything, then all the artists/writers/poets can sit with their creations in a dark room and marvel at how protected and wonderfully unknown it is...

Martin said...

I'm aware of this potential problem of copyright infringement and try to avoid using random internet photos. Here are some sites with "free" images: