There are a ton of misconceptions out there about how photos can be obtained, used and attributed on blogs and websites in general. There are writers who choose not to educate themselves or simply ignore the ethics of photo use and it’s not ok.
I came across these statements written by an active blogger/freelancer and to put it mildy… I was shocked what her personal knowledge and overall thoughts were on the use of photos for her blog and freelance work.
Take a look below:
…You know, as far as I understood, Pinterest is an exception as it is fair game. I never get permission from the blogger for my other freelance work and a lot of it gets picked up on MSNBC, YahooNews, and USAToday. All people have to do is click through to the pin and then once again to the source.
And another doozy….
The best way that I found to do it is not necessarily ask for permission but say you are going to use it – like a courtesy email, and let them know that if you don’t hear back in 48 hours, you assume it is fine. That’s how I usually do it for other sites.
Here are my issues with this…
#1 Those big websites that you’re citing up there are depending on you for due diligence in practicing ethical and quality writing standards. Eventually they’ll figure out that isn’t happening with the site you are working for and they’ll stop syndicating your content. Additionally, I’m guessing that when you go to use your “clips” as a professional reference…it won’t look so “professional”.
#2 Pinterest IS NOT an original source for a photograph. Half the time, you “click through” only to find yourself at other boards or a bad link. Pinterest should only be a starting point for finding inspiration – you should then take the time to track down the original owner of a photo or idea and ask for permission to feature their photo and/or idea. Give yourself enough lead time on your assignment so you can wait it out. Or, do what the rest of us do and use creative commons licensed photos or PAY FOR A PHOTO. I personally work for sites that do both of these things and it works out fine. Sure it takes some time to find free photos that I can use for commercial purposes, but there are photos available.
#3 The 48 hour “I’ll assume your O.K. with it” mantra is ridiculous. What if they’re on vacation? What if they had a hurricane hit and their power was out? (waving to Floridians – my family included – and those in Louisiana about to deal with Isaac and sending prayers to those folks!)
You cannot assume because they did not reply that they are good with you using their original creative work.
If you are working as a freelancer – you should be also actively working to properly educate yourself on best practices and then create a set of standards for yourself that includes following high legal and ethical standards because otherwise it could come back to get you in the long run whether legally, professionally or both.
What I’m realizing in the blogging world is there is such a blurred line with all of this and perhaps I’m just a stickler, but I’m not cool with this mentality of “ask for forgiveness later”. If someone creates a beautiful photo, it belongs to them – we should not be lifting it and assuming it’s ok simply because it’s on Pinterest.
It is not fair game.
We should all be making sure we go to the source and ask for permission if we would like to feature a person’s photo or idea. It’s the right thing to do AND it’s the legal way to do things.
Additionally, just because you link back, that doesn’t mean you’re “good” in the eyes of all bloggers, photographers etc…
Now granted, most people won’t spend the money to take legal action against you…but some people will.
Now, I will admit that I don’t know each and every thing there is to know about the legalities of photo use, but what I do know is when I’m in doubt, I leave it out. Period. OR I look into it and make sure I’m doing the right thing.
Interested in educating yourself further? Here are some helpful posts from a legal blogger:
Copyright Fair Use and Online Images
Avoiding Copyright Pitfalls on Pinterest
Next Monday I’ll have a post featuring resources for finding quality photos for your freelance work or blog. I’ll also provide tips for how to cite sources properly as well as advice for how to go about approaching a blogger for permission to use their photo based on my experience – so make sure to subscribe to my email updates so you don’t miss that post as well as others.
What big mistakes have you seen freelancers and bloggers making?
**Tomorrow is Listable Life – write up a your list post and link up!