How to Avoid Copyright Infringement with Blog Images

Blogs seem to be popping up all over the Internet, from personal blogs to business blogs. The one thing bloggers are all searching for are good quality images. But before you copy and paste that pretty sun-scape scene from Google images into your blog there are a few rules to follow.

Collage of Birds

Image Credit: mikeaird
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mikebaird/535024229/

Copyright Issues

We’ve all been there searching the Internet and coming across an image that we want to repost or share. But taking that image and posting it on your blog could be illegal. More than likely it is illegal. Simply copying and pasting images from the Internet into your blog could likely violate copyright laws. You can’t simply take an image you find and use it for whatever purposes you need. Copyrights protect the original author, photographer, videographer, etc. from having their original work stolen or misused.  That means that if you did not create that image on your blog someone else holds the copyright to it. So you cannot use it unless you have been given explicit permission to do so (like a written letter expressing that permission), you have a licensed to use it or is public domain.

How do you know if an image is copyrighted? According to ipatentattorney.org, most images are copyrighted, unless the copyright has already expired (copyrights can last 75 years plus so its unlikely the copyright has expired). Even if you find an image that has not been registered, you should assume it has a copyright. This is because copyrights are automatic as soon as the photo is taken or made.

Cite Your Source

If you plan to use an image you should always ask for permission from the original creator. If the image is part of a particular posting in a blog you will need to apply the fair use factors to determine whether your use requires permission.  Fair use is the grey area of copyright law. According to weblogs.about.com, if you are reusing someone else’s material on your blog for the purpose of providing criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching or research, then you may not have to seek permission.  But don’t take that as free reign to start using images from anywhere to post on your blog. Fair use is debatable and could cause you a lawsuit. If you lose that suit, it could also cost you a hefty fine.  The safest thing to do if you’re republishing someone else’s work/image is to ask for permission. Just like in school when you were writing a big term paper, you must also cite the source within your blog. Meaning you must include who the image belongs to and the web address where you took the picture from.

Places to Get Images

So where should you get your images from? There are tons of stock image websites you can check out to find images for your blog. Sites such as iStock or Shutterstock allow you to browse the images for free and if you find one you want you can purchase the rights for a fee. There are also websites out there that allow you to use images royalty free such as certain areas of Flickr.com. For images found on these sites make sure to look at the license requirements and put a link to the source as well as provide credit to the photographer if you use them. Be sure to read the terms and conditions on the image first so you don’t end up inadvertently violating someone else’s copyrights and find yourself in a lawsuit.

 

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Image Credit: mikebaird

 

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One thought on “How to Avoid Copyright Infringement with Blog Images

  1. This is really great information, and thanks so much for blogging about this. I’ve been guilty of pulling images from the web and using them in my blog posts, prior to realizing that it was a no-no. Though I didn’t outwardly take credit for the images, I’m sure it could have been assumed by those seeing them that it was my work if I didn’t provide a hyperlink. I learned about some of these websites from you a while back, when you spoke at a networking event, and have been faithfully legal ever since. : ) Thanks, Three Girls!

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