Running Over Copyrights

Stop SignIn my haste to post Planning A Blog, I rushed to find free images to illustrate it and inadvertently used a photograph without permission or credit. I didn’t see the photographer’s name in the link, which is just about the same as running a red light.

A few days after the post was up, the photographer contacted me and sent me a bill for “release from liability of copyright infringement for unauthorised and uncredited” use of his image. I apologized and appealed, to no response. So I’ve paid the fee, and I’m writing this post both to make amends and to warn others not to make the same mistake, even unwittingly.

There are images available to use for little or no cost, and there are images that are owned by their creators. These artists deserve to be credited for their work and have the right to charge for it, and it is up to the user to find out and know. That would be me.

 That said, the world of rights is confusing, and I don’t pretend to know all there is to know by a long shot, but here are some basic things you must know:

  • There are free photos available online through Creative Commons, a non-profit organization “that enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools.” Creative Commons has rules about attribution and links; follow them.
  • There are images in the public domain (i.e. out of copyright). Wikimedia is a good place to look, but you still have to check each image for its particular rules.
  • There are services that stock Creative Commons photos and automatically upload credit and links to the images. Wylio has been recommended to me. $36 a year for the service is significantly less than paying a fine.
  • There’s lots more to learn. Some of the sites where I found helpful information:

My advice for all bloggers:Image

  • Schedule the time to ask permission and/or to find available images before rushing your post online (i.e. Don’t speed.)
  • Take your own photos.

I’m not the first person in the world this has ever happened to, nor am I likely to be the last. I hope this post will prevent others from using images without permission and help artists receive full credit for their work.


M. Shafer, Photo

M. Shafer, Photo

As part of her practice of Restorative Justice, Deborah Lee Luskin takes full responsibility for her wrongdoing and hopes this helps make amends.

31 thoughts on “Running Over Copyrights

  1. Reblogged this on Roshan click's and commented:
    Next time, if i find my images being used without my consent; instead of asking to take it down, i am going to send an invoice. See what Deborah Lee went through, and she was invoiced.

    Please respect photographers and their art.
    With Love

  2. Reblogged this on Wendy Anne Darling and commented:
    VERY good advice and a warning from Deborah Lee Luskin… be extremely careful when posting somebody else’s images! Use creative commons images, your own images, or pay for them. The image creators have the rights to their work unless they choose to make them available for free or for being given credit for their work and they can, and may, sue you for using it without permission! Try doing your own work and pay it forward by contributing free images to creative commons sites. People will love your for it and allowing others to use your work as long as they credit you will also help get your name out there!

  3. Well….just think about your own work before you post something that isn’t 100 percent yours…that’s what I do. If I can’t contact the owner to ask, I won’t use it. I figure it’s just not meant to be 🙂

  4. Thank you for this post!
    Here’s a source I use for images: – there are 2 licenses types available for most images.

    At least 4 website versions in my past I had an image that a company wanted money for. I took the image down and did not pay. My lesson – ask/check/get in writing from people who work for you that they own the rights to use the images on your behalf in the format being used.

  5. Free Range Stock has great, free photos…PicMonkey is the easiest, user friendly site to update, improve, crop, resize and enhance color and clarity. And! They have a passel of fun Halloween decor and effects. Try both – your will thank me.

  6. As both a photographer and a writer, thanks for sharing your experience with everyone. It really does suck when I find either used on another site without permission. I’m always happy to let someone use it if they ask but think I’m going with the option of sending them a bill the next time I catch it.

  7. Reblogged this on Write. Think. Do. and commented:
    A very good post, with a valid point. Many bloggers forget that just because a photo is available on Google Images does not make it free of copyright. I myself have been guilty of this before as well. Just something to ponder.

  8. I have wondered about this….When I do an image search, I go into advanced search and have them only display images that are “free to use and share.” Is that enough? It often occurs to me that *someone* took or owns that image.

  9. Thanks for this, it confirms my paranoia in using any stock images, as I have never worked out the fine print and if using it once relates to a blog post so being so new to blogging I have only ever used my own photos or what I have created… But I might take a look at some of those links if I can’t get the right shot.

  10. Using your own images is not the easy way it sounds. You can easily infringe an architect’s rights or an artist’s rights if the bulk of your photograph contains their building, statue, etc.

  11. I use a lot of my own photographs, but also use Pixabay free photographs that have been uploaded by others. They always say no attribution needed and can be used commercially. Am i on safe ground here???

  12. Reblogged this on SoLauraBarker and commented:
    I just went to a workshop on this very subject at the Surrey International Writers Conference. It seems many authors are using photos without permission (me included) not knowing we could be sued for it! Luckily there are Creative Commons sites where photos are shared legally by the artists.

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  15. Good suggestions. I’ve been worried about copyright issues since I started blogging. I generally use my own photos or images from, but I’m going to try the sites you mentioned as well.

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