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Picture perfect ways to legally use images online

For generations, a picture was worth a thousand words. Now, in the social network age, a picture is worth a few hundred likes, some +1’s, a handful of retweets, stumbles, tumbles, pins, and shares of all sorts. Oh, and those original thousand words.

Using images in our online work is crucial. It’s a visual medium and how better to tell your story or draw in your audience than with a compelling photo? But while some may be flattered you’re using a photo they took or image they created, most are not. Besides all the SEO and search-engine ranking reasons, using someone else’s work without their permission is not only wrong but also may be illegal.

US Copyright laws may be years behind the fast-paced world of social media and blogs, but they still control how a copyrighted work can be used.

Some tips to make sure that you know what you can and can’t use on your blog or in social media:

  1. Attribution doesn’t make it right.
  2. Copyright infringement is illegal and carries with it potentially significant consequences.
  3. Make sure that you understand the Creative Commons licenses.

+Sara Hawkins, attorney and social media blogger, did the research and covered it all. Make sure that you’re using images properly and legally!

Full article at 12 Most.

Photography and social media.

Photo credit of stock_xchng.

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Comments are off for this post.

  • GREAT info.

  • Hi +Peg Fitzpatrick , great post, thanks for sharing.

  • Its like this folks:
    If you have to DOWNLOAD it… to REUPLOAD IT… so it will be "bigger" because its too small when you embed it.
    Then it IS infringement.
    Make no mistake.

  • +Silvino Santos You're welcome!

    +Jason Joseph It's infringement if you change the size of an image?

  • +Peg Fitzpatrick Unfortunately, the only thing we know for certain about size of image is that thumbnails are most likely covered by Fair Use (Perfect 10 v. Google), but even that's not perfect. Making an image larger, as +Jason Joseph mentioned, will most likely create a question regarding infringement. However, reducing the size may not be sufficient since we're now dealing with such high-res images.  (Edited to clarify)

  • +Sara Hawkins If I load an image from Flickr with proper CC licensing, can I adjust the size to go on Facebook or my blog?

  • No. Busy ATM ill address this later.

  • +Peg Fitzpatrick for Creative Commons, a lot depends on the license. Also, with Flickr CC there are often multiple image sizes available so reducing the size may not matter.  Where we run in to problems is if an image becomes distorted and the author does't want their work looking bad. Creative Commons doesn't usually deal with the size issue, but for some creators it may be a big deal.

  • +Sara Hawkins Good to know! I'm very careful but I do see that point. I use Flickr CC almost exclusively since I can check the things that I need and read the info.

  • Just wanted to let you all know I curated this post for http://www.internetbillboards.net Loved this whole article..and I am always looking for good stock photos!

  • +Laurie Thompson Thanks for sharing it, Laurie!

  • I edited my previous comment. Its not about size,… Id  mentioned that as thats one of the most common reasons people upload images that arent theirs to being with. Because they didnt like the size of the image when they simply linked to it.. or because they wanted to show a gallery of images  Whatever the reason.. if it has to be downloaded to be uploaded.. and you dont have consent… then you should not be doing what youre doing.

  • +Jason Joseph Gotcha!

  • This was such a great, informative +12 Most post! I don't know if this is still an issue with design students coming out of college (haven't worked recently with anyone fresh out), but in the past it's been a challenge to educate them as to what they can legally use (not to mention the quality/size in terms of what's appropriate for print vs online use – but that's a whole other topic). Wish colleges made something like this a required course.

  • +Cheryl Bochniewicz I'm glad you liked it, Cheryl. I wish that people were better educated on these matters, the same problems arise with written content. One person that stole content from my blog had an English degree so I knew that she knew and ignored the plagiarism rules as she cut and pasted my words on her blog.

  • +Jason Joseph your clarification is spot on!

    +Laurie Thompson thank you for sharing my article.

    +Cheryl Bochniewicz it would be nice if design students were apprised of copyright laws because it does create significant liability for their employer or clients if a copyrighted image is used inappropriately. I'm seeing more and more people get hit with Cease & Desist letters because a designer used an image they found on the internet. It's one of the reasons I write these articles. There's a lot of misinformation out there, but people need to know the truth even if it's not what they want to hear.

  • I use Zemanta when I’m writing my blog and they automatically offer up images/articles that are relevant (though not always!) for my post. For the most part I use my own photos but sometimes it’s nice to just quickly add in one of the ones supplied by Zemanta. Most of their images come from Wikipedia. It’s a great program & free 🙂

  • Thank you for posting this, +Peg Fitzpatrick I was just having this copyright discussion with +seth sklar the other day!