Thursday, October 8, 2009

ON BLOGGING ~ Picture Pirates...

Welcome to our weekly BlogAnon meeting where we confess a particular blogging sin and turn to you for support, suggestions and that blogging bond so we know we're not all alone. Don't be shy. Read along and let us know if you identify with us this week.

See that logo image we've got goin' on right above? Stolen. I've no idea who created it. I found it on Google Images under a search for "Confession." It appeared quite a few times on a variety of locations. Since I was unable to determine the proper source, I just decided to continue the trend of borrowing it for our own use.

I always start out my Google Image searches with the Advanced feature filtering for images labled for reuse. But the problem is I can never find anything good there. So I play dumb and steal them from the general pile instead.

On the sites I work for I am responsible for providing supporting images as well as my words. And usually I use my own photos. But every now and then that isn't possible so I have to go searching through Flickr Creative Commons or for stock images on or contact organizations/sites that I am writing about for their media images. I have to know the original source, I have to credit to them in the proper fashion, notify them of the post and sometimes ask permission before using.

So why am I so laissez faire on this personal blog? If I came across one of my photos on someone else's blog I think I'd be angry. At first I'd be flattered that someone thought enough of it to use it. But then I'd see that they'd played the role of pirate and just swiped it and displayed it as if it were their own. And that's when I'd fire off a nasty comment claiming my photo, my effort, my love.

But what is to stop them? We don't have any policy listed here about usage rights. I don't even know how to do that. Do I just make up some standard policy that nothing can be used without our permission? How do I become a part of the Creative Commons community without storing all our photos on Flickr? I've already got them catalogued elsewhere. And even after all that - who's to stop anyone from just snagging them and ignoring our rules anyway?

Google Analytics tells me that we get a lot of visitors here via Google Image searches. I don't know if that means people then take away our images with them when they leave or if they are sorely disappointed when they find that the titles of our images don't match the idea they were searching for. Should I title our images by pure numbers instead of names? Would that keep people from finding and stealing them? Or maybe some image searchers actually enjoy our blog, stick around and because of that we've gained a new friend.

I don't feel guilty stealing a non-photo image. Why is that? Someone took the time to create that Joy of Confession logo above. They used some program I don't have to cleverly modify the Joy of Sex book jacket - photoshop perhaps? People are always creating cool buttons and tags for their memes, challenges and awards. It must take time and effort and creativity to bring them to fruition. How is that any less important than a photo?

Someone needs to teach me how to make these non-photo images on my own so I don't have to steal them anymore. Or even better, make one for me. Don't worry - we'll give you full and proper image credit every time it is displayed here. Free advertising is better than theft any day. And we're happy to give it when we know where it comes from.

Have you ever snagged an image without crediting back? Do you make an effort to find only reusable images? Do you forgo them altogether because of the trouble usage rights could cause? Or do you only ever use ones you've created yourself? How the heck do you make those buggers anyway?!?!?! Don't be afraid to share - your blogger thoughts are safe with us.


Sandy Nawrot said...

(Actually, it is the cover to The Joy of Cooking!) I'm not very careful about where I get my pictures. Most of what I take are book covers, which to me makes no difference. Once in awhile, I will take something else, but unless it has a watermark or a warning attached to it, I see it as fair game. I don't know, maybe someday some person is going to go nutty on me for taking somethng I shouldn't, but I figure I deserve at least one warning. I have been using YouTube things recently too. I've noticed that ALOT of the music videos are now being blocked, which frustrates me!

Susan said...

I take almost all of my own photos, but once in a while you need something. I figure if it's in the public domain and if it isn't copyrighted, then it's okay. I don't Flickr, so I haven't gotten into any issues with that.

When I post pics on Facebook, I do put a watermark on them, but what's to prevent someone from copying that image and just cropping out the watermark.

On my blog I have My Free Copyright applied, but I have no idea if it works. It can't be too effective if it's free, right? Why don't you try stealing a picture and see if it does? lol

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I'm with you. And therefore I fully intend to visit you in the lockup, and bring you cake. But seriously, I think an argument could be made for fair use (educational purposes). My husband the lawyer just shakes his head at me. He'll bring both of us cake....

The Bumbles said...

Sandy = Cooking, Sex - whatever! Silly Bumble. You can tell which book I was more interested in huh? I don't even know how to put a YouTube image in a post - I know how to do the link but not the actual image where you click on the screen to make it play. Does YouTube have flags that tell you whether something can be shared? I like the blocking feature - that protects the person who created it from it being reused by pirates like me. If I could block my photos like that I would be pleased as punch.

Susan = How do you add a watermark? I personally hate those things because they get in the way of the image. I think I'll try and steal one of your images tonight and see what happens. I've never heard of My Free Copyright - lets test it out!

Rhapsody = You and I both know your hubby is right. I don't want anyone stealing my stuff but I'm too ignorant to protect it. So it appears to others that I am OK if they take it. But I'm not. So now I'm feeling guilty about all those images I've used that don't belong to me and wonder if people thought I created them all myself.

Rose said...

I always try to give credit where credit is due. You can get a creative commons at

You can also add a disclaimer to your blog of course none of this protects you 100 %.

No Right Click (blocking) can very easily be bypassed and most internet uses know how to bypass it.

The Bumbles said...

Rose = Thank you! I never actually looked at the License section of Creative Commons - just seeking licensed work to use. I will look into it further this weekend. How do you add a No Right Click to an image? It would dissuade a lot of people - even if they knew a work-around - simply because of the extra steps involved.

kaye said...

After my dad passed away I spent 2 years preparing his personal history for publishing. The editor told me that any images I find on the internet had to be documented in the bibliography. I just had to list the web site and the date I viewed it. If the picture was plainly marked with a copy right symbol or a name then I needed to purchase the picture or have permission from the owner of the copy right to use it. When blogging I do try to link back to the original source of the material I use. I do like to use poems and quotes quite often. I'm guilty of stealing in the use of my header photo. It is the cover photo of of one of the issues of "The Hobbit". The name of the person who scanned the cover into the computer is on the photo. But I did not credit the original artist, or ask permission for use. So long story short--yes I am guilty of lifting images, and words. I did put a request in my side bar for people to link back to my page if using my images. But I figure--If I post it, it's free for the taking.

The Bumbles said...

Kaye = That sounds like an interesting project you worked on. Is it something we can find readily or was it a small limited release?

We used to use an image of The Bumble originally as our Avatar. But then I got worried about being sued by Rudolph so we just took a photo of the little Bumble statue instead. But that's probably still illegal. So I give up. Go ahead Rudolph - sue me.

kaye said...

ahem . . . I am back. I did a little investigating into the original artwork of my blog header and found this information posted on the artists web site:

This internet web site, and all of the paintings, images, text and files herein are copyright © Ted Nasmith. All rights reserved.

No paintings or images from this web site may be reproduced, stored, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical or otherwise, without prior written permission from Ted Nasmith.

So as you see, I really am a thief. Which puts me in the horrible position of facing my guilt--and coming up with a new header picture. Drat, I love the one I have so much. The thing is, I actually found a blog template for purchase that used this same exact picture. I wonder, should I ask for permission or should I just remove it? I really want to know what you think.

I printed my dad's book with an "on demand" printing service. They charge a layout fee for each printing, the more books you order the less expensive they are, but there is no book minimum. I collected money from relatives and purchased about a hundred books. I have the PDF file if I want to make another printing. I really enjoy the book.

The Bumbles said...

Kaye = Uh-oh! Bet you wish you'd never stopped by this post today eh? I would just ask him for permission to use as your header with a link to his website. See what he says. Tell him the truth - that you found it and were using it believing it to be reusable until researching it further and have now discovered the copyright and hope to rectify the matter while still being able to display your love of LOTR/Tolkien via his beautiful image. You know - suck up to him. He will either say:
-No. Then banish you from Middle Earth at which point you will need to find a new header.
-Yes. But you have to pay a fee to use it. Is is worth it to you?
-Yes. Display with pride as is adding in link/attribution to him.

Or you could do nothing about it and pretend you never knew. How long has it been up there?

otin said...

I have never taken an image from another blog unless I had permission from the blogger. I have taken photos from websites, though. GO YANKEES!

The Bumbles said...

Otin = Why is a website OK but not a blog? I would be more worried about stealing an image from a website than a blogger personally. The big guys have more money and more resources to devote the time to causing me trouble. Especially if it was from, say, the Yankees' site ;0)

kaye said...

I emailed the artist--I hope I won't be banned from middle earth. Whatever will I do?

Will said...

Giving credit is always good if you are unsure. But finding the original source can be hard. There are some sites that have images available for free as long as you attribute. The latest versions of WordPress make it easy to give credit.

And you are correct about the watermark. That is why they are usually right in the middle of the shot.

The Bumbles said...

Kaye = Fingers crossed for you! Let us know what you hear.

Will = How does Word Press make it easier to attribute?

Beth F said...

I watermark all my photos. But I usually put the watermark in a place that could be cropped. I hope that no one steals them. I'd hate to plaster my name across the image, thus making the photo difficult for my readers to see.

shoreacres said...

Oh, my. Now that I've stopped hyperventilating, I'll throw in my two cent's worth.

Content theft is theft. Whether it's words, photographs or images, if we don't create it or have specific permission to use it, we are morally and legally liable.

I have had the experience, over and over, of having entire posts stolen by people around the globe who plop them onto their money-making sites and surround them with ads. It drives me crazy, and I go after them, usually through their hosting company. It's quite possible for individuals to track content thieves and have their blog sites taken down.

There are very specific steps in the process, outlined in the DMCA (Digital Millenial Copyright Act) and everyone needs to be familiar with them.

Photos, text and images can be registered through My Free Copyright (which I do) and Copyscape provides additional layers of protection.

It's also worth noting that the MINUTE something is published, it falls under copyright law. There does not need to be a specific statement or copyright mark.

If someone simply quotes a bit and links back to me, I don't get so exercised. But when images or text are lifted without attribution, you can bet I'm on the hunt for the offender.

OK. End of rant. I don't mean to come off as a real jerk. (May be too late for that!) But this is a Big Deal for a lot of us. Anyone who's interested in more hard information can follow up at my blog entry entitled Content Theft: It Matters to Me.

Oh - and there are lots of places to find good images. I take most of my own photos, but I use iStock from time to time. The cost is minimal, and the selection is great. Wikimedia's good for historical photos, and the Library of Congress. It's amazing how much has fallen into the public domain.

When I do use an image from a site, I ask permission, and if no response is received, I put the source in a visible place, redo the photo and add the photographer's name, and link back to the site where I originally found it.

The Bumbles said...

Beth = I've never heard of anyone placing their watermark so it can be cropped out of the way! Aren't you defeating your own purpose of protecting your images? I appreciate the effort visually, but you are making it easy for the thieves.

shoreacres = I love your spirit in championing this cause. You are right in every way. I find it awful that you have had your words stolen. That must feel like you've been violated. I have learned of a lot of useful resources, tools and rules through this post and hope that others put them to use, or re-think the way that they use things. I still am uncertain what to do when I find an image that is not possible to determine the source for crediting. Such as the one used here for this weekly feature. It appears on a multitude of blogs. How am I to know who made it initially? If I credit back to another thief I'm just creating more trouble, aren't I? I really need to learn how to create my own icons. I wish someone could point me in that direction.

Creations by Laurel-Rain Snow said...

What a thought-provoking topic! These questions have crossed my mind when I save Google images...I'm still not sure about the legalities there. Another blogger pointed me to the site when I asked her where she got her "cool" pictures, but didn't say anything about "rights."

When I snag another blogger's pix, I link back to him/her. Hopefully that is sufficient. I rationalize that I am giving that blogger publicity and he/she might be grateful!

Hopefully someone will bring ME cake in the Big House!! LOL

The Bumbles said...

Laurel = Google Images are not free and clear from a copyright standpoint. You would need to do an Advanced Image Search (the small link next to the Search Images button) and the change the Usage Rights drop down menu to Labled for Reuse. Then your search will return images that are OK to be posted. But even then credit should be provided whenever possible. It is a toucy issue and one that this post has caused me to be more discerning in my searches.

Creative Commons has photos available for reuse in varying degrees but you need to be sure to read the parameters of each photo before using.