When a picture will cost more than 1000 words

There's a lot of talk around the water cooler lately and it isn't about the RWA conference. Lately, twitter is all a buzz about blog photos. I know, right?

At first, I dismissed the conversation because 1) I'm pretty small time, 2) I didn't really understand the issues and 3) I didn't want to invest the time to really understand it.

That all changed when I read Roni Loren's blog post about getting sued for a picture she used on her blog. Yeah, when money's on the table, I'm all ears. She is now forking over some of her hard earned moolah for the use of a picture she didn't really need to use.

Sound familiar? How many of us have found a cool picture on the internet and plugged it into a blog post without a second thought. I know my blog is full of them. We'll that's all a changin'.

I'm now starting the tedious task of going back through my posts to remove pictures I don't own the rights to and replace them with other pictures where they're available.

At first, I had no idea where to find other pictures. This blog is for fun and while I love it, I don't have the cash to purchase pictures. Good thing the internet is absolutely full of free pictures that people will allow you to use. Generally, this is done under a Creative Commons license.

Used with permission from www.creativecommons.org


Here are two of my favorite sites so far:

http://search.creativecommons.org/
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Main_Page

But be warned, just because you find a picture on a Creative Commons site doesn't mean you can use it. Be sure to look at the creators page and confirm they are granting permission for the use you intend. Some owners specify you can't make changes, others will require you to link back, and some restrict to use for educational purposes only. It's up to you to determine if the permission fits your use.

To cover my bases, I am going to link back to the permission page for every picture I use. This serves two purposes. First, I'm covered if there are any questions about permissions and second, the owner of the image gets a little linky love. Always a nice thing.

I'm also going to try to find more of my own pictures. With a camera on almost all phones these days, most of us have no excuse to not snap a quick pick when inspiration strikes. At some point, when I have some time, I'd like to post my own photos with a CC license so I can share the love with other bloggers searching for ways to include images and protect themselves.

I realize how tempting it is to ignore this sort of thing. I ignored it myself. But Roni shows us that this can happen to any of us and it's our obligation to do the right thing.