Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Word to the Wise this Wednesday

I was going to post another Word Wednesday because it’s been awhile, but recently I’ve been reading about something that has me concerned—copyright and the use of photos on our blogs.

As a writer who plans on selling e-books, I have no desire to see anyone’s work pirated and yet, it seems that, without thinking of it, I may have done so, as many of us have done. When’s the last time you went to Google, found a pic you liked and hit the right click button on your mouse to save it? If you didn’t check the copyright and/or didn’t give credit (where credit is asked for in lieu of payment), you technically broke the law. I do this all the time—well, I used to—in the erroneous assumption that Google images are public property. Negatory. This is not the case.

In order to use photos, you must have the express permission of the photographer. This permission can be granted, from what I understand, by the artist placing the work on a free image site, such as Wiki Images or from the artist placing the work on a stock photo site. Stock sites will usually either have a yearly charge for X amount of “free” downloads or will be “free” with a per photo charge.

I know this topic seems obvious, but the age of instant gratification seems to have overrun the common sense we were taught as children:

Using all or part of someone else’s work without their permission and without giving them credit is called theft. It is illegal.

Now, when I was a kid (yup, now I sound like my parents), this was not such a worry with pictures and photographs. There was no internet (can the dinosaur jokes, if you please) and there were limited ways to make copies:

 1. Making a mimeograph copy. 
 2. Using copy paper (sometimes called "carbon paper") to make a copy.
 3. Using tracing paper to make a copy.
 4. Going to the big office store to use their copy machine (in later years).

All of these methods are purposeful—like a pre-planned murder, to employ any of these methods would, in a court of law, show undeniable intent. Intent to what, I don’t know; I’m no lawyer, the phrase just sounds cool. But it takes time and effort to trace a picture or to go to the office or store and make a copy or to re-draw the picture after placing it over a sheet of copy paper and a clean sheet of paper and keeping them lined up (usually with paper clips). If it sounds like I know what I’m talking about, I do. I used to employ the copy paper and tracing paper methods. I was a kid once and I wanted to be able to draw like the experts. I figured if I traced their work and saw how their hands moved, I could draw just like them. I was incorrect. But I digress…

By comparison to the Ice Age methods I used, it takes very little time or effort to right click on a photo or picture and select “save as”, then upload it to a blog. It takes time and effort to find the copyright info and to do the right thing by giving the owner of the photo credit. You will notice that photos not taken by me or my family have been temporarily removed. Once I find out who to give proper credit to and how, I will re-post them. 

This website proved helpful with copyright and how it works.
This one gave some tips on where to find free (and legal) stock photos.
Another helpful site about copyright.


Alicia Coleman said...

Great Post, Lynne. Thanks for the wonderful tips. I'll be sure to keep these sites handy.

Lynne Kensington said...

Ever since that girl got sued, I think we've all been walking on eggshells when it comes to pics. Glad I could help!

Mackenzies Momma said...

THIS is why as soon as I figured out how to do it I started making my own caps and such to use. Even though I don't own the show I at least knew the source of the caps (and could therefore get rid of them if the need arose). But then I started having issues with people taking my caps and not crediting (as well as my photos) and so I just stopped sharing. Especially after that nasty run in with a girl where I recognized the photo (via hidden watermark) and she STILL wouldn't give me credit.