Saturday, August 2, 2008

Internet image use: stealing?

I have a bit of a problem on my hands. These days, the days of mass media overwhelming amounts of information, people have a hard time slogging through even the most well-turned phrases on the Internet if there isn't additional eye candy on the page. That's just how it is.

My dilemma is this: I don't always have my own personal images on hand to supplement the copy, so I'm tempted use other pictures to enhance my blog. But is it legal?

With the Golden Rule in mind, would I want people to reproduce my images or work without my consent? Feeling the way I do about creating (potentially) interesting content, and knowing the role images play in that process, I'd have to say that I wouldn't mind as long as I was credited for them. Unfortunately, however, the Golden Rule doesn't trump the actual law of the land.

Besides, my feelings may be largely contingent upon my current status. I am hardly an established writer/photographer, and I usually don't get payed for what I write or the pictures I take, so at this point I'm just happy for anyone to promote me. It's possible, and even likely, that I'll feel much differently if I ever do reach that stage.

Internet marketer Amy Cham, who incidentally is not a lawyer, said this in her blog:

It is not necessary to file a formal application for a copyright. As soon as a work is created--a story is written, a picture is taken, or a statue is sculpted, for example--the creator owns the copyright to that work. This is the case online as well. A webpage, messageboard post, digital photo, and even email communications are subject to copyright as well.
Citing the source of the information or image, while it protects you from plagiarism and is a good start, is not a guaranteed way of avoiding copyright infringement. Luckily for some of us, there are still ways to legally incorporate copyrighted material. This falls under "fair use."

Fair use is the basic idea that comment, criticism, news reporting, teaching, research, and scholarship are all protected. Since many bloggers fall into some of these categories, it's safe to say that, for the most part, we are protected in the realm of image use.

Problogger.net had this to say:
Copyright tends to vary from country to country, but in most English common law based societies, the concept of Fair Use or Fair Dealing generally applies to the use of copyright protected images on your site. Basically using an image as an extract/ compliment to a post would normally be considered fair use. Using it as part of your blog's design however would not.

Images from commercial sites should always be deemed copyrighted unless it is clearly indicated otherwise, and you should generally consider not using them, unless you are clear on legal concepts of fair use.

2 comments:

Me said...

i repeat.

lamest post ever.

im going to post your photos everywhere i can possible.

Me said...

alright lame ass, for becoming so serious and lame about me commenting on a hard news story on your otherwise entertaining blog, i promise to no longer comment.