Being a More Responsible Blogger – Respecting Copyright

Because this is an important topic and it affects many, Mandi and I decided to blog together today and post this on both of our blogs in hopes of reaching out to as many of our fellow bloggers as possible.

What Happened

Author Roni Loren was sued because of a photo she posted on her blog. (It happened to be one of those ‘mancandy/hot man’ photos that are popular on romance sites.) She recently blogged about her experience and educated many bloggers on what copyright and fair use is and how it pertains to us as bloggers. Her post is not meant as legal advice, but it certainly has some good information and is a starting point for many of us in educating ourselves on some of the laws we need to know to be better, more responsible bloggers.

How We Reacted

When we read Roni Loren’s blog post, we were shocked, and reacted by first, talking about this issue. We realized that it is not just crediting the source where the image comes from but not having the permission from the copyright holder of the image is where the heart of the matter lies. The fact of the matter is, we don’t want to infringe on anyone’s rights. Especially for the sake of a prettier blog post (or to admire hot abs).

What’s Next

We don’t think bloggers in general set out to violate copyright, but being ignorant of the laws or saying ‘everyone else does it’ is no excuse and we want to do the right thing. We took a good look at our blog posts through the years and deleted images we weren’t absolutely positive we had the rights to use. In the future we will take care to only post images we have the right to use.

Now We’re Reaching Out To You

Blogging (and ogling smexy men) is fun and we can still put pretty pictures in our posts and admire rippled abs, hard bodies and hairy chests. (Mandi says – what?) We just have to do it responsibly and respect the rights of others. There is a lot of information out there, and it is hard to wade through it all. We encourage everyone to become as educated as they can and share what you learn with your fellow bloggers.

There are many resources available where images can be obtained legally for free or little cost. Here are a few resources we know of (Be sure to read their Terms of Service and know the risks):

You can also check Flickr and DeviantArt for creative commons images.

Roni Loren posted on her blog yesterday about a new group on Flickr started by Kristen Lamb where writers can submit their photos for other writers to use. I assume anyone can submit and use photos as well though. This is a great idea and hopefully a trend that catches on in our blogging community.

We would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions on this topic!

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  1. says

    Hi Vixen— I happened upon Ms. Loren’s post the day before yesterday. It rocked me. Though she didn’t say how much she had to pay to that photographer it was obviously substantial. I have an image in my header that I found years ago and have no idea where it came from. Needless to say I’m purchasing another image and that one’s come out pronto! Thanks for the information about the websites and the group on Flickr. DHM

    • says

      Yes, I think her post rocked a lot of us. It was an eye opening and but now we know and can make sure we’re not violating copyright.

  2. says

    Wow, that is heavy. I found my avatar picture years ago through google pictures, and have no idea where it comes from, though I believe the tv show Charmed. I just googled for witches, and “took” a few nice pictures for my own use. I have no idea how to find out where those tiny pictures are from, I have had them for years now.
    For the rest, only book covers on my blog, no man candy.

  3. Susan W. says

    I’m not a blogger but I wonder how many photographers/models appreciated the exposure they got on the blogs? I pinned a couple of pictures from an artist friend’s website after talking to him about it. He loved the idea because it is more exposure for people to see what he paints. He has a statement on his site that you not print out his pictures without permission but he’s ok with them being posted on sites as long as he is credited. The pic’s I posted were of paintings that I bought or commissioned from him so I actually own the original paintings.
    I understand about the copywrite issue but I think they guy took things too far with Roni. He requested she take it down and she did then he sues her for probably way more than the photo was worth. If you’re going to post your work online where people can get it then you should expect this to happen. I’m sure there were things he could have done to prevent theft of his work. He needed to take a bit of the responsiblity in this issue also.

    • says

      There are a lot of artists that pin their work on Pinterest and other sites who don’t mind if people use or share their images. It’s their property and the choice is up to them. If an artist prohibits it, we should respect that. I’m grateful that Roni shared her story and opened my eyes to the wider scope of this issue.

  4. says

    About wix weeks ago on a guestpost of mine I received a comment a pic I was using was his. If it wasn’t removed within 24 hours he would sue. I quickly e-mailed blog admin to remove it and I haven’t heard from him again. When I read the blogpost from Roni Loren I got quit a scare, I have posted so many man candy pics over the years on my blog but never thought I was doong anything wrong…

    I think it’s a good thing to raise awereness that certain photo’s are copyrighted, the more bloggers setting a good example the more will probably follow! I know I will 😀

    • says

      That’s the the thing, I don’t think anyone really sets out to do harm. A lot of it is just not realizing we should not use certain pics. The good thing about this community is we help each other and out and learn from each other. :)

  5. mzcue says

    I’m a photographer with a large online gallery (sorry, no man candy), so I have to react to what Susan said above:
    If you’re going to post your work online where people can get it then you should expect this to happen. I’m sure there were things he could have done to prevent theft of his work. He needed to take a bit of the responsibility in this issue also.

    To me, that’s like saying if you don’t want someone breaking into your house, you should have bigger bars on all your windows.

    Or, if you really don’t want to be attacked, you shouldn’t wear short skirts.

    In my case there’s a copyright assertion statement on all my gallery pages. Plus, I have copyright marks on all my photos. But you know, some people just crop off the copyright before re-posting the pix.

    And here’s the kicker: If someone can show that you knew your photos were being used without permission, it weakens your case as the copyright holder to protect any of your work. You need to be able to show that you aren’t giving them away for free sometimes, then making a fuss about others.

    While it’s true that blogs get a lot of exposure for a photograph, they don’t do anything to get career visibility for the photographer or the model. That kind of circulation can even cost sales if people who need the pictures for commercial purposes lift them from blogs instead of buying the rights to use them.

    A lot of photographers I know have indeed pulled their work offline, even gotten out of the business entirely. That means fewer photographs, fewer models and in the end, less art to enjoy. And nobody really wants that, do they?

    • says

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. For many bloggers, it’s a case of just not understanding the law or even not being aware of what copyright is. I do think the majority of people care about the rights of others and do not seek to do harm. This is a great chance to educate and inform so thank you again. :)

    • Susan W. says

      I’m sorry if I offended you. It was not my intention to offend anyone and sometimes I don’t write things the way I have them in my head so they don’t come out right. What I was thinking was more about how people assume that if it on the internet it’s free to take and how anyone should expect it and protect their selves/stuff. I learned my lesson to watch what I say.

  6. says

    Thank you for the informative post. I try to be careful, but it is always wonderful to have a reminder to not get lackadaisical. I wrote a post to pass along this important information.

  7. says

    Thanks for the great post, Sophia. This image copyright thing has had me in a frenzy for days now. I was wondering if you had any insight into sites like Pinterest and Tumblr? Most of us don’t own pictures we repost on those sights, and I think the ToS is kinda scary now that I read it. :/

    • says

      Yes, their ToS make you responsible for everything you pin and repin. So if you repin a copyrighted imaged, you are violating copyright. Also, many are saying if there is a pin-it button on a blog or website, then it’s ok to pin the images on the blog. Yes, you can pin them, but you still take a chance because how can you be sure the blog you are pinning from is not posting copyrighted images?

      But, there are ways to use tumblr and pinterest legally and responsibly. Shiloh Walker has a good post on that here:

  8. says

    Thanks for this! I always thought movie stars were fair game, because it’s like an ad, kind of, but I realized not during all this and took them all down. As an author, I’m a little horrified that I’ve been violating copyright while moaning about book piracy!

    Anyway, one of my all time fave sources of free photos is wiki commons.
    It’s easily searchable, and lots of images there are actually public domain (in the US). The rest are mostly creative commons. It always says on the page very clearly.