Chris The Story Reading Ape posted a link the other day that got me thinking. It was about a blogger – a cautionary tale, really. She had been using images from the internet to illustrate her blog posts, but had been unaware that she didn’t have permission to use those images. When a photographer called her out for using one of his images without permission, she found herself liable for court costs and a usage fee, money she didn’t have to spend.
Quite a few years ago, I worked in advertising, and one of my roles was as media buyer for a large agency. That meant I had to find images for creative teams and then, if they wanted to use them in an ad, I had to negotiate a usage fee for the image based on who was using it, where it would be seen, for how long, at what size and a few other variables. (I also had to do the same thing for any models we used in photo shoots – a whole other set of conditions).
This was valuable experience to have when it came to setting up my own blog, and the reason that I use my own photography 99.9% of the time. It also came in handy when working with a designer to create my own book covers. The sword artwork on Oak and Mist is my own illustration, while the tree, strap detail and leaf icon are purchased images. My upcoming book, No Quarter, once again features the sword image, but the necklace is a stock image. I had to purchase not only the right to use the image, but an extended commercial license which allows me to use it on a book cover for up to 500,000 copies (and if I even get close to selling that many, I’ll be thrilled! :-))
If this sounds expensive, it’s not – I think I spent less than £25 on the necklace image and extended license, a lot less than any court case or fees I could run into if I’d used the image without getting the correct permission. There are a lot of online stock photography sites offering free images, credit bundles or subscriptions, which you can use to download images as required. I wrote a post about this previously, discussing the different type of images available for use, but my recommendation was to always, always read the fine print.
When I visit blogs and see images being used that are obviously stock images, I do wonder whether they have permission to be used. Of course, the blogger in question could have commissioned the artwork or photography themselves, bought the license to use them or even got them from a free site, but, as many of the images are not credited, I can’t be sure.
So I thought I’d write this post, just in case. I’m certainly no expert, so please don’t get shouty (though feel free to let me know if I’m barking up the wrong tree) 🙂 Nor is this legal advice – simply what I’ve learned through my own experience. However, when posting images on your blog, proceed with caution. If you haven’t taken the image yourself or have permission to use it, then don’t.