Shannon Steven (2011)Shannon Steven (2011)

Hey all. So I would like some advice today!

I am in a bit of a quandary at the moment – a quandary about photos!

I like using photos in my posts. I like using COLOURFUL bright photos in my posts. BUT. I don’t generally take a lot of colourful bright photos, and my picture quality is never QUITE what I want it to be for this kind of thing.

So generally I scour the net looking for photos that I can use. However, there is a problem with copyright there. I used to email the owners of the photos and ask permission to use them, but generally speaking these artists didn’t generally bother to reply, or if they did it would be maybe a week or two after when I wanted to use the photo, and I’m kind of more of an ‘on the fly’ kinda girl – ie. I don’t plan my posts that far in advance!

So using someone elses photos – generally not an awesome idea if you don’t credit them properly (which, ah, yeah I don’t. I just link to them because sometimes tracking down the original artist on the internet is a bit of a BIG time consuming job.)

(Yeah. I know, I know. Not good enough!)

(Plus I’d be pissed off If someone did the same to me.)

(Do unto others and all that jazz.)

So my quandary is this: how do I use photos on my blog without also wasting a lot of time trying to get written permission from each artist? (I say wasting time because the number of non-replies I’ve had so far certainly don’t feel like time well spent.) OR is this a no-brainer: meaning – DON’T.

I’m leaning towards the DON’T at the moment. Mostly because I just got a perfectly polite message from someone who saw I’d used one of their photos (linked back to the source – as per usual) and asked me to remove it because permission wasn’t given, and accreditation wasn’t done properly.

Perfectly understandable, because he was completely in the right, and I was completely in the wrong.

So what do you guys do when you want to use photos? Do you only use your own? Or do you seek permission first? And how do you correctly attribute them? Like, is a screen name and a link enough? Or do you email the person for full names, dates, and copy-right information?

I am confused!

BUT also a little annoyed at myself because come on Shannon! You should know this stuff already! and besides stealing photos isn’t nice, and I am a nice person. Mostly. Besides: I don’t want to ever get caught in that situation again! Lesigh.

I’m hoping I’m not going to have to stick with only using my own photos because: Ugh. My camera’s not quite what I wish it was, I don’t have photoshop – so I can’t really edit the way I want to, and I don’t generally get to spend a lot of time on photography.

So anyway: Enlighten me please!! How do you do it? DO you do it? (Use other people’s photos I mean!)


12 thoughts on “Quandary

  1. I wouldn’t know about the copyright issues. I’ve always tried to avoid posting other people’s pictures except for the album covers, which by the way I have no idea if any permission is necessary for posting.

    Regarding the image edition software, please note that there is an outstanding open source software called “The GIMP” that can do everything the other paid option can do.

    There’s a number of fast transformations that you can apply to an image that will produce excellent results with a few clicks of the mouse. I guess a transformed image taken from the net isn’t the same image anymore, so that might be an interesting approach.

    Oh, an it works with Cecelia too.


  2. Don’t think I can really help, because if I use images that aren’t mine, they tend to be from newspaper websites or something, and I just provide the link back to where I got it, because surely newspapers are all over acknowledging things properly???

    There’s free software online that does the stuff Photoshop can do – maybe the solution is to just use that?

  3. Hi Shannon,

    I appreciate your sentiments here and I think I can help. Do you know about creative commons (CC) licences? If you don’t (apologies for the following if you do) they are licences which mean you can use someones work (photos, music, video) as long as you provide the right acreditation. What you need to do will normally be laid out in the type of creative commons licence the work is associated with. But, in a nutshell, it normally means that you can use the content, for non-commercial purposes as long as you credit the creator and do not alter the images. Some require no credit, it depends on which CC licence is applied.

    So google for creative commons and you will find the explanations for the different licences and find those that will suit your purposes. Then go to Flickr (or wherever), go to advanced search, choose a creative commons licence in the search and whatever else you wish to specify and you will find many thousands of colourful images that you can use exactly as you wish to without having to ask permission, or have to wait forever (or never) for an answer to your request.

    For example here you will find examples of the CC licences and what they mean. Some say you have to credit the owner, some you don’t have to, just do not alter or use the content for commercial purposes.

    I did a search for images on Flickr with “colour” and only images with a creative commons licence here. Many of those you will be able to use without seeking permission, as that permission is implicit in the granted licence.

    I hope that that helps you with what you need.


  4. What I forgot to say, if you are new to this, is the creator of the photo, video or piece of music will allocate a type of licence to everything they create. I assign full copyright to mine as I wish to keep control. But others assign a CC licence as they are happy for others to use what they have made, as long as the right accreditation is followed. So on flickr, for example, many photos are given a CC licence by the owner, which means they don’t mind you using them (according to the guidelines laid down). So there is no need to borrow/beg/steal images, music or videos as there are plenty out there that people are happy for you to use. Taking them from a newspaper website is equally frowned upon, as you won’t know what licence they have with the creator. They may have even paid for the privilege to use that photo. To then take something from their site, and assume that they have paid the right accreditation so you don’t have to is wrong, why should you have something for free that they had to pay for? You will annoy both the owner and anyone that has paid for it. You are always responsible for the content that you take regardless of where you get it from. If someone like Getty finds an image, that they represent, being used without permission, “I took it from a newspaper website and thought they would have dealt with it” is no excuse and Getty will sue. This can all be avoided by using Creative Commons licences. Many people post their work on the net, it doesn’t mean it is free for anyone to use, regardless of where you have seen it. Some lawyers are getting fat from the proceeds. So avoid doing it at all costs! If simply to be polite and respectful, after all using something without permission might be taking money off someone who earns their livelihood by creating and selling images.

  5. Oh crap, I just post pictures as I like. I figure if they are on Yahoo! Image search, then they’re fair game.
    Maybe I’ll just start taking my own…

  6. Hey all! Wow, I go away from my computer for a couple of hours, and look what I was missing out on!

    Thanks for taking the time to drop in Richard, and spread a little knowledge around about Creative Commons, and copyright on the internet! I’d heard of creative commons before, but had no idea how to use them, so thanks, I’ll definitely make sure I use this guide next time!

    And Ormie, Regarding Gimp, I actually have it on Cecelia, but have never really been able to use it witht he ease I’ve used photoshop with in the past – I find the layers functions completely incomprehensible! I might have to sit down and teach myself how to use it properly. Thanks for the suggestion!

  7. Shan you should give it another try. I had it sleeping there for months until I began to get the hang of it. It does some amazing stuff.

  8. I always thought that once something was posted on the www, then it was free game. Obviously not.
    Nice of you to at least try to gain permission and also accredit the photographer with an acknowledgement.
    Couldn’t see too many people pooh whooing that.

  9. I once used a screen grab of a football game. I just wrote ‘courtesy of ESPN’ and left it at that. But generally I prefer to use nothing but my own stuff – then I know that it’s not copywritten (copywrited?) to anyone but me. Yes I know I do those silly caption things – but those are movie still that are decades old: I’m sure the owners will cut me some slack there. In any case, I have no idea where I found them: I have memory problems. Maybe, as a starving student, you can claim that too. Blame it on poor nutrition, or a kick in the head.

  10. For the most part I use my own photos and artwork, mainly because I don’t usually do artwork with posts that are just general thoughts. The few times I have used photos or artwork it was usually related to a product (movie, museum, etc.) that I was writing positive things about; I both gave credit and pretty much hoped they wouldn’t mind the free promotion.

    I know from my own experience that I really appreciate when someone asks for permission to use a photo on their own site (and, yes, it can take a while to get back to replying on those, what with life and all). Even if it’s a not-for-profit site, it still annoys me when I see that someone has used my work without at least asking permission, but if they at least give credit, I can sort of forgive… sort of.

  11. I generally use pictures from everywhere. I provide a link to them in the setup of WordPress so if you click over them they should show? I also save who they are by in case the person is like “You didn’t credit me” because generally I change the text from underneath to say things that are applicable to my posting or just completely random. Nobody has ever contacted me. If they do and they ask me to remove it, I will. I think you are doing good just emailing them and asking, because I never do. (Sheesh. Now I feel bad!)
    Since I don’t do anything commercialized with my blog, I don’t stress it.

  12. Interesting discussion here, and impressively open minded opinions. I agree it’s nice to be asked for usage of one’s photos, but once I put it out there on the web, I feel like it’s being released into the wild. CC agreement is a nice idea too. I’d probably feel differently if I made my living from photography, but it’s just a way of life more than anything.

    And back in the day (I’m an older guy- 55) I was a full frame b&w snob. I’m glad I still have those negatives, and a scanner to digitize them. But most of the pix on my blog are taken with a Canon point & shoot. The images are cropped, and using Microsoft Office Picture Manager (I only use Photoshop if a shot really needs work) I turn up the color saturation to 42 (21 for flesh tones). Then I hit the “Autocorrect” button. 95% of the time this makes the image pop nicely for the screen. Then I compress it down to the ‘Document’ setting- putting the file in the 100-200K size range.

    Your photography was what drew me to this blog a couple years ago. I think you have a real talent and a great eye. Keep up the good work leaf!

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