Some of the common questions as people begin blogging are about images: how to credit them, what are the copyright regulations, and general proper blogging etiquette.
First up, the legal stuff: images are copyright to the photographer. Unless you have received permission from the photographer, or they have licensed their work for creative commons, you are using any images you post under the US government’s doctrine of “fair use”.
You should read this short page for the complete information about fair use but to paraphrase, if you are using an image for the purposes of illustration or comment, are not using all or substantially all of the author’s work, and clearly notate the copyright owner of the work, you are falling under “fair use”.
As you can see on the copyright office’s page, the entire fair use area is gray. Here are a few things that are absolutes:
- Getting approval from the owner means you are in the clear to use the image.
- A creative commons license (which many bloggers who take their own photos provide in the terms and conditions of their site) means you are clear to use the image.
- If the owner of an image asks you to take it down, take it down. Period.
- You should ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS credit the owner/photographer. Even if you have permission. Even if it’s creative commons. Unless it’s something like a stock image you have purchased, this rule should be followed 100% of the time.
If you are a blogger yourself, it is a great idea to have a policies or terms page on your site, telling your readers whether or not they are free to use the photos (and content) that you have posted and in what manner.
When you post images that you do not own, I think it bears repeating that you should always credit the photographer. You should also credit the source of the information (where you found it), and any sources that they have named. For example, I posted an image last week on Elizabeth Anne Designs that I found through the blog Little White Book. She found the image via the Ruby Press blog. The original image was from the blog Matt Bites, who is the original owner of the photo. So my full credit was: image by Matt Bites, via Ruby Press and Little White Book.
It doesn’t cost anything to be nice and give credit where credit is due, so pretty please be nice and link to everyone who helped you find the image!
Other bloggers and photographers, do you have tips to share on image etiquette or guidelines for usage?