Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Pitfalls of Clipping Images From Random Internet Sources

Well that's an unwieldy blog title, isn't it?  But it's early, I need a shower and I'm rushing to throw some ideas on a page before putting on my mega-boots and heading into the Chiberian landscape to find a decent cup of coffee.  I have been percolating on this topic since I first began blogging five years ago when the coordinator of a group blog I'd joined began inserting images when we submitted work to her for posting.  Nevermind that it bothered me not to choose the images that accompanied my work, it's also, in many cases, a copyright infringement that can result in huge, evil fines.

One blogger writes, "Current Fair Use image copyright laws say that you’re financially liable for posting copyrighted images, even if:

  • You did it by accident
  • The picture is resized
  • If the picture is licensed to your web developer (Getty Images requires that you get your own license, thankyouverymuch)
  • You link back to the photo source and cite the photographer’s name
  • Your site isn’t commercial and you make no money from your blog
  • You have a disclaimer on the site
  • The pic is embedded instead of saved on your server
  • You found it on the Internet (that’s not an excuse!)

If you use copyrighted images, you will get caught sooner or later. People who create copyrighted works hire services to use computer programs to scour web pages for copies of those works. It takes time to find them, but the process is automated and runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you post something that's copyrighted on a blog page that has links pointing to it and the author wants to monitor the images, an unauthorized use WILL be found eventually."  
Whoa.  Okay so let's let that sink in.  We all do it.  Finding something cool on the internet to share is fun, and is often a quick way to spice up your blog postings but beware.  A friend of mine just paid out $1000 to a company that insisted she'd used a copyrighted image.

So how do you know when an image is copyrighted?  Unfortunately, most images on the web should be considered copyrighted just in case and even if they don't have a copyright symbol (©) or legal text.

There are free online image banks like Freephotosbank and but even these resources require that you link back to them if you use an image - some even require that you ask their permission first.  TechSoup has a more extensive list of free image sites and explanations regarding how to research an image before posting.
I'm planning to take this lesson to heart. (Imagine the image of a heart right here because I'm not taking any chances...)


  1. OMG, I'm almost 80 years old & I'm going to spend the rest of my life in prison!!

    1. Right? Be careful. This is really happening!

  2. Its really getting sad out there!


  3. This is why I decided to use only my own images on my blog. I am happy to share if people ask permission. (I've heard of illustrators posting images, then later finding them on greeting cards - no rights, no payment.) Perhaps I should put a little note somewhere on my blog requesting people ask my permission to use my photographs.