July 17, 2024

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.