Teaching Heart Mom

Just a Mom With a Teaching Heart. Find fun activities to do with your kiddos and students (infant to age 10). www.teachingheart.net blog

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Copyright Blogging Lesson Learned

I thought I would share something I learned with you so that you do not make the same mistake I made…  I learned that from now on I will only use photos I have taken myself with my own camera or have paid for with proof of payment on my blog.  For years I have paid for images to use on my CDROMS and made sure that I was following copyright laws on those images because not only could I be sued for copyright infringement for not using the images to term on the CD’s, my customers could be as well when they share the materials with their classroom (since you can modify many of my materials).  I remember in 2002 when I decided to publish my work to sell on www.teachingheart.net , I spent months researching copyright laws and making sure that I knew what I was doing before I sold one item.  So, now I know I need to follow the same rule with images I use on my blog.   
Believe me there are some mean people out there that aren’t scared to verbally harass you via email or snail mail for a mistake of unknowingly sharing one of their copyrighted photos on your blog.  Even if admit you made a mistake and you take the photo off your blog immediately upon notice, they want you to pay for the time it was on the blog and they will continue to call you a thief until you do.   They will speak of their many lawyers and use scare tactics to get you to pay their ridiculous fee for the unauthorized use of their image.  In certain terms they are right.  Even if you did find the photo on a free service (as I did) or even if you found the photo on another blog and post it, you just never know if it is owned by someone who has a copyright on it.  Best bet is to just use your own photos or images you purchase on your blog or any documents you may create.   
How many times do we see bloggers sharing something cool they saw online and also sharing the photo?  They link to the blog the photo came from and feel - ok, I am sending the traffic their way and sharing a great idea…  Be careful, how do you know that blogger did not take that photo from a copyrighted photographer?  Yes, you still could be unknowingly committing a copyright infringement.  I did...
I made the mistake of taking what I thought was a free for use photo (which at the time was on a free use site) of something as simple as say pennies (something  I could have easily taken myself) and the photographer contacted me (2 years later after the post was first posted) demanding 1,000’s of $$.  I immediately took down the photo and apologized extesnsively to the photographer for my mistake.  Yet, the photographer still wanted the 1,000’s of dollars she felt she was owed.  She verbally assaulted me via email multiple times.  I researched the photographer and they seemed legit.  Even found this photographer on chatboards discussing how to get money from bloggers for unauthorized use of photos.  Also, came to find the same photographer contacted multiple education/teacher related blogs for the same misuse of said photo & received different payments from each blogger.  I ended up negotiating one of the smaller fees for the misuse of the image, but some people paid up to three times more than I did.  It’s sad because educational/teacher bloggers are honest people and many of them (as well as myself) were basically called shop lifters and verbally abused by this photographer.   After payment to this photographer I agreed to not share her name or the said image in question.  With research and knowing many educational bloggers I found out she made lots of money off of the said photo. Hmmm...??? 
Anyhow, the moral of the story is don’t think any image online can be posted unless you own it.  Really, it's just not worth being attacked by a crazy photographer with absolutely no heart trying to make some extra money off of small time bloggers.  If you were given permission to use a photo, save the granted permission correspondence.   Hopefully this will save you the many hours of back tracking and researching; not to mention the heartache I went through over this.   I wish this situation upon no one - especially the community of bloggers that blog to help parents and educators. 

If you have specific questions about this situation or something similar is happening to you, feel free to email me, I would love to try and help you. 

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Blogger Nancy B said...

So sorry you had to go through all of this. I understand many people are dishonest but you are one of the most honest people I know. Hopefully other well meaning bloggers will read this and think twice before posting anything.

August 2, 2011 at 2:58 PM  
Blogger Bonnie Zimmerman said...

I'm so sorry you had to go through this.

Thank you for sharing your story with us. As a new blogger, I've been debating whether or not to post pictures on my blog. Now that you've shared your story, I won't use any pictures that I haven't taken unless specifically told by the owner of the photo it's ok.

For instance, I have a logo-pic on my site from an e-conference I attended. The e-conference organizers had the logo-pic designed and said it could be posted on a blog, etc., so I used it.

August 2, 2011 at 4:05 PM  
Blogger Michele said...

I am so sorry you had to go though that :( It is such a sad world we live in. There are a lot of dishonest, tacky, and down right rude people out there!

August 2, 2011 at 4:08 PM  
Blogger Marisol Perez said...

Wow that sucks that that happened to you people can be so ugly.

August 2, 2011 at 4:48 PM  
Blogger Tonya said...

I'm sorry this happened to you. Did you check with the site you found it on to see what their policy is on the use of the photo in question? I'm also wondering if this could be consider a scam by the person who took the picture. This is why I ask the question. Very sad..

August 2, 2011 at 5:19 PM  
Anonymous Deborah said...

Wow - I mean wow! I can't believe you had to pay money for time used on your site. I agree that you should take your own photos and seek permission to use photos from other blogs but wow - I never heard of anyone coming after a blogger like this. I am sorry to read all the stress you went through too.

August 2, 2011 at 7:14 PM  
Blogger Trudy said...

I agree with Tonya. Seems like a bit of a scam...it's quite likely they wanted people to use the image just so they could find them and demand money. Too bad you agree to keep this person's name a secret. They deserve to be outed. I agree that copyright is important but not when individuals are intentionally posting images in hopes that they will be used so they can basically threaten honest people rather than provide a valuable warning. Annoying for sure..sorry you had to deal with that.

August 2, 2011 at 7:21 PM  
Blogger ReuS said...

That's very sad that you had to go through that. I'm sorry that happened to you, but thank you for sharing with everyone. I guess it's better safe than sorry with things like that. And you never know just how mean some people can be on the internet.

August 2, 2011 at 7:22 PM  
Anonymous Laura said...

Wow ... things that make you go "hmmmmm". If I am not using my own image - I am sometimes using images from http://www.freedigitalphotos.net -- where if you are using the image for free, they ask that you provide attribution by publishing a credit to the digital artist who created the image - they even give you the html code to do it (which I absolutely use). This is clear in their terms of service.

Was this a similar type of place where you received your images?

August 2, 2011 at 7:27 PM  
Anonymous amyt said...

I'm glad you can look back and call this a valuable lesson but in the same breath I wish there was some way to stop people like that photographer.

August 3, 2011 at 5:08 AM  
Blogger Teaching Heart Mom said...

Thanks all for your comments. It does sound like a scam... but I was advised to settle because it was her photo that I used unknowningly and I was actually making copyright infringement. It gets more and more difficult to be online without someone taking advantage of you. She tied the blog in with www.teachingheart.net (which the photo was never on) and saw all the traffic I get there and thought I can make a pretty penny off this girl... that is just my take. Just be careful! Thanks again for all the comments.

August 3, 2011 at 5:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like the photographer has made a business out of harassing bloggers for money rather than dedicating her time to creating photos that people will want to buy. So sad. Thank you for the warning and advice. I will be much more careful now!

August 3, 2011 at 8:23 AM  
Blogger Laura Major (Learning Is Child's Play) said...

Do you think this would also be a no, no for clipart pictures from Google Images? I use them all the time!

August 3, 2011 at 2:10 PM  
Blogger Teaching Heart Mom said...

Hey Laura,

I know for a FACT that you should never use google images on a site or blog... Google images is only a search tool that finds images on the web. When you conduct a search, you will see that there is a link to view the image in its original context on the page. Google is not publishing these images on its own.

When you find an image through the Google search, you will need to check the actual website to determine whether or not it is free to use. Google explicitly states, "Image may be scaled down and subject to copyright." If the image is falls under copyright, in order to upload the picture onto your web server and display it on your page, you need to have permission.

In order to use an image that is found with a Google search,
1. It must be in the public domain
2. You have received permission from the owner. OR
3. It has a Creative Commons license that allows for its use.

I suggest you read this too...

August 3, 2011 at 2:19 PM  
Blogger Laura Major (Learning Is Child's Play) said...

Oh my gosh! I really need to do some studying I see! Thank you for the information Colleen! I'm heading over to the link to give it a read!

August 3, 2011 at 3:40 PM  

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