In 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:
- Roni Lauren’s BlogHer, Blogger Beware
- Jeff Haden’s Inc. Where to Find Free Stock Photos Online
- WordPress’s tutorial, wpbeginner: how to find royalty free images for your wordpress blog posts.
- 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.
As part of her practice of Restorative Justice, Deborah Lee Luskin takes full responsibility for her wrongdoing and hopes this helps make amends.