Monday, April 16, 2012

About stealing photos

I'm wondering about the treasure trove of photos and graphics available online. When I want something to illustrate my blog, I check out Google Images. I can waste a lot of time wandering through all the tantalizing things offered there conveniently lined up in tidy little squares free for the taking.

But wait! How do I know that there are no strings attached? Maybe there are some kind of online police who stand guard over those things. I might be placing myself--and my blog--at some kind of risk. Sometimes when I click on a likely candidate for pilfering, the original source will come up. This gives me pause. Does that mean that the posting was taken without that person's permission? How does all of this figure into the scheme of Google Images? And, more importantly, my right to do more than look at them.

I have been working on a posting about my childhood and in the course of my research, I was trying to find pictures of old country churches. I found a picture that had been taken inside the very church that I was writing about. I promptly right-clicked on it only to learn it was protected. There was no way I could get a copy of it.

Now this raises the question, if that picture could be rendered incapable of being copied, wouldn't that indicate that all those unprotected photos on Google (and Yahoo, Flickr, et al) aren't protected because nobody really cares if others use them?

You may ask why I don't just take my own darn pictures and not bother about appropriating other folks' stuff. Well, it's because photography is one of the many things that I really (momentary interruption while I check the Thesaurus for synonyms for "suck at") am not very good at. I won't go into all the details except to say, I'm an embarrassment to my kids who all take better pictures than I do.

      Ms Sparrow photograph-All rights reserved



16 comments:

Jane and Chris said...

Your photography style makes you unique....stick with it, it could be your 'signature'!
Jane x

Daughter Number Three said...

Just because a photo hasn't been uploaded in a way that doesn't allow for downloading, doesn't mean it's not protected by copyright. (Too many negatives in that sentence!) Unless a site says its creator(s) work under the Creative Commons or they place their work in the public domain, it's copyrighted.

That said, I tend to think that personal blogs like yours or mine -- where we are not profiting -- are allowed a bit of leeway. It's good to site the source of the image, of course, and/or link if appropriate. Sometimes I use the HTML title tag as a credit to the image creator, so if you put your mouse over it you see the credit.

And depending on the situation, using an image may be considered fair use. For instance, if you are writing about something from the Star Tribune, and you use one of the photos from the same article you're critiquing, I would consider that fair use.

You may wonder why I know this, but it's always possible to grab an image, even if downloading isn't possible. You can make a screen snapshot of it.

The Owl Wood said...

I don't think anyone (except perhaps the lunatic corporations and "celebs") give a hoot about mild and fair use, I certainly don't. Using it on a great blog is a compliment, it's not as thought you're stopping the photog making a living, by using it for billboard advertising or something.

That said, it's hilarious to see what one or two of my "customers" will do to avoid buying a crisp no-strings full-size copy of my photographs of them (at a cost of about two or three bucks) - one guy has as his FaceBook profile photo a mobile phone photo of his computer screen showing my photograph of him (complete with watermark) ... blurry, grainy and I wish that as Daughter Number Three explains, he'd just taken a screen dump instead!

I have methods though - all of his photographs will still be offered for sale to him thus in future, but they will be heavily watermarked "TIGHTWAD!"

p.s. - Google neither ask about copyright nor care, their little s/w robots simply patrol and scour every online directory that isn't password protected and then add it to their collection of other people's things that they can give away to make ££profit££ for themselves - like books, which they have been blatantly stealing in the hundreds of thousands.

p.p.s. - you've sent us a mild taster of your weather - lashing winds, rain and hail here today! ;-)

troutbirder said...

Mmmmm. Good topic. I'm fairly slack on this whole process. In other words having an obscure blog with less and a couple dozen occasional nice commenters like Ms Sparrow, I dont worry about being reported, sued or sent to Leavenworth. My blog is not a profit making operation. I do ask permission to use pictures I take of people, photographers who sell or publish their pictures, and anything that flat out says Do No Copy. If I "borrow" one of the ten million pictures of Yellowstones Old Faithful to make a point.... I don't worry about it. :)

Ms Sparrow said...

Thanks for all the feedback, folks!
I feel a lot better about using the photos floating around the internet--and there are a whopping lot of good ones! Apparently, this is courtesy of all the pictures previously "stolen" by Google et al.
I'm just the sorta-innocent end-user!

Kittie Howard said...

Good point, Ms Sparrow. And thanks to Daughter Number Three and Owl Wood for clearing up some stuff I'd also wondered about. I avoid obviously labeled work, but use photos from chambers of commerce, museums, and so on that would benefit from usage (if not noted otherwise). About the rest of the alphabet -- I had the most fun with Q.

Mitchell is Moving said...

I love that final photograph and I plan to use it without permission.

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

When publishing something for sale or on behalf of any place I worked, I've always gotten permission. But when I need a little art for my little blog, I borrow (and give credit where I can). I, too, love your photography style. :-)

^..^Corgidogmama said...

This was food for thought, and created a very good conversation going in the comments. Good post today m'dear!!

Ms Sparrow said...

Awww, you guys are just too kind!
Thanks for all the input.

Pearl said...

Hey, how do I get into your photos?!

Pearl

Linda Starr said...

I try to give credit to the photos I use on my blog, and I am not sure how to prevent others from stealing my photos, but I know it's been done and then there are the ideas and writings that are stolen, not to mention all the tax returns recently stolen, or perhaps they were borrowed, but doens't borrowing imply returning the item, there are a lot of tightwads out there for sure, I had one "friend" borrow one of my building photos so she could blow it up and put it up on her wall back when I was selling my photos on my blog - only know cause she told me in a comment, Geez. oh well. Then recently I was contacted by a film company to use one of my photos and they sent me a release form and everything, and the photo wasn't even that good. Ha. Who knew.

Meggie said...

I've just recently become concerned about the photo rights too! I'm not so much concerned with who might use mine. But, what concerns me, is when I take a photo from the side of the road, do I need permission....? Sometimes the world seems a little crazy.

Kittie Howard said...

Thanks for stopping by, Ms. Sparrow. Love your comments. I hear ya about the roux, but it's more a sauce than a gravy. Making gumbo is pretty much a long morning's project.

Crafty Green Poet said...

I think that people are much more relaxed about it than they used to be.

I like your photo too by the way...

Jenny said...

Mr. Jenny handles all the photography at our house...

Because I too am not very good at taking pictures...

And suffer from steaaling images from Google...