Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Blogger Gets Sued For Borrowed Image

I read an article last month (perhaps by now you all have as well) by an author named Roni Loren, who discusses her experienced with being sued for using a google image without permission on a past blog post.

Essentially, she was under the impression, as a writer/blogger, that if you use an image on a blog post and credit back to the source, it was considered Fair Use under copyright law. I have to say, that was my assumption as well. When I add images to blog posts, I simply cite the source (webpage) from where I got it. Now I know, it is illegal.

Some time ago, she was contacted by the owner of an image she had used with a legal notice to remove it, which she promptly did, feeling bad that she had unknowingly infringed on the photographer's copyright. However, despite her immediate action, she was sued by the photographer.

In the article, she discusses many of the misconceptions that bloggers have about copyright and fair use. It is definitely an area I will also be furthering my own education in now.

She also shares some links to resources that provide free images for public use, such as Creative Commons (though some of the comments on her post suggested even there, one should be careful). The best advice she had to share was simply - assume it's copyright, then ask permission. You never know, the owner of the image just might say yes!

With 99% percent of bloggers probably using images the way I was until now, under the same misunderstanding, the chances of one individual blogger being sued are relatively small. However, as this author points out, would we want our work, our stories, posted without permission, whether that person gave the proper credit or not? I think the bigger issue, for me, is whether what I've been doing is honest or not. Since the answer to that is a resounding, no, I have gone through my blog and removed several images I had found on Google image search.  The only images left are ones received from others (which I'm hoping they had permission to send in the first place, though I may follow up on that), book covers and blog tours links that were given away for promotion purposes, and images I made or asked permission to use.

And then I think I will make a disclaimer that any image on my blog is free for sharing (unless otherwise indicated). Hopefully that makes up for all the copyright infringement for which I have been guilty up until this point!

What is your take on this issue?

1 comment:

  1. Interesting post Amanda. This issue seems to me to be a bit complicated. This happened in the U.S. I'm interested to know what the laws in Canada are.

    I was reading some of the comments and came across this one:

    "As it is, I happen to be an IP lawyer and I agree with Sylvester below, it does sound much more like a scam than an actual legal case (this is not legal advice either, just one blogger musing to another).

    My issue is the line you wrote where "if you immediately take down a pic if someone sends you a DMCA notice (you do have to take it down, but it doesn't absolve you.)" If you immediately took it down, I'm wondering what are his damages?

    If this ever did go to court (and it would have to be someone with buckets of money doing this) the first question I would ask as a judge is "How were you damaged?" Moreover, to get actual money damages, he'd have to have actually registered the work for him to get anything meaningful.
    (see generally:

    In any case, sorry this happened to you. It's more bullying than anything (but you are right, you should avoid putting up other people's work without proper attribution).

    I'm an amateur photographer too (you can look at my amateur-ness at loganlo.com) and, in the US at least, for anyone to get any real damages, the works do, in fact, have to be registered.

    Yes, you are right, you have copyright the moment it's created but if it's not registered, you are limited to only the damages you actually have (see the link above). If your picture is there on the web for the world to see, damages are more difficult to argue."


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