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Play Nice with Images

Play Nice with Images

I’m a visual girl; it’s one of the reasons I’ve worked in film and do photography. A picture really does say 1000 words. There’s been more times than I can count when I’ve fallen in-love with an image and have wanted nothing more to post it here, just for you to look at too. But I don’t because the image was copyrighted.

While most people’s intentions at taking images are good (they fall in-love with something and want to share it or illustrate a point), that doesn’t make it right. All images and content on this site and on my others are copyright which means unless you’ve received permission you can’t use the images. That’s not because I don’t believe in sharing, but because I have to protect the work I do. I’ve had a lot of issues in the 13+ years I’ve had web pages with content stealing/sharing from identity theft to my images being claimed and sold by other people.

The other issue arises when people take images and innocently host them on other serviced hosting sites such as Blogger or Typepad. The problem with this format is lack of credit back to the original image owner – even if you put in a text link below the image. The image itself will look like a blogger/typepad/hosted filename and in some cases, the terms and service of a host provider claims ownership of anything hosted! Which means an image of mine taken by you and uploaded to your server can become a legal battle of who owns what.

This is why 99% of the time I use only my own images on this site. If I want to illustrate something I will ask permission to use an image and if I don’t receive permission or am just to lazy to ask I just link to it. This is really important to do because it shows respect, kindness and real support to other artists. It’s also important because as someone who profits from photography via personal collections, licensing and magazine work, I can’t have an image I’ve copyrighted and profited from being used for free on other sites or worse, being used to promote things that have nothing to do with me.

There are some sites where people don’t mind their images being freely used and some Flickr pages allow you to easily blog others’ photos. The great thing about blogging a Flickr Photo is that Flickr automatically links back to the original owner and you can clearly see the owners copyright information/permissions. If you see an image on a blog that you’re really wanting to use, just take a moment to search the site for copyright info or just ask. Sometimes even an old image-clenching stiff like me will allow images to be used (and provide better resolution images!).

But when in doubt, please leave it out.



  1. June 30, 2008 / 4:51 AM

    linking to an image on someone else’s server can be bad etiquette. it means that all traffic to your site will tax their server and thus count against their bandwidth at their host. photo sharing sites like flickr, or big commerce sites, are obviously made to handle lots of requests, but someone’s little independent web page may not be. so i would encourage folks to consider the source before pulling images directly into their page. many times the considerate course of action really is to copy the photo to your own server, and link back to the original. that way you are not putting the weight of your entire readership on someone else’s resources.

  2. June 30, 2008 / 6:07 AM

    A friend, who is a photographer, just recently explained this to me. I had no idea! I thought that as long as you linked to the artist, and didn’t try to claim it as your own, it was fine. I am guessing that there are a lot of people like me, who just didn’t understand the ramifications of it all. Now I search under “creative commons” pics on Flickr. Not as many choices, but at least then I am not inadvertently stealing someone else’s work! Yikes!

  3. Hygge HouseNo Gravatar
    June 30, 2008 / 11:14 AM

    Kathryn that’s a great point and something I learned the hard way about 10 years ago. I had a really popular personal site, linked to another image using the other persons source (like ) and about a week later got an email saying that because I had pulled so much bandwidth, they were slapped with a $300 extra bill.

    I ended up paying this and it was an expensive lesson to learn. I had no idea at the time about this sort of thing or using images either.

  4. July 2, 2008 / 11:15 AM

    Hear, hear! Thanks, Alex, I’ve been meaning to write about this myself as I’ve just found another wave of my illustrations used for people’s avatars, myspace accounts, and websites, and not one of them requested permission. I’m still amazed at how many people don’t know (or consider) the first thing about copyright or the rights of the artist.

    You’ve explained it well; I will definitely be pointing to your article. ♥

  5. July 6, 2008 / 2:41 PM

    this is such a great photo, i love dogs and their sense of “checking things out” with immediate input to the mouth