Image Grabbing, Uploading and Blogging

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I read a lot of blogs. I love blogs. When I read someone’s blog, it feels as though I had a little conversation with them or they just told me a story about themselves that helped me know them just a teensy bit better. I am also a blogger (duh, obviously since you are reading my blog), a photographer and a writer.

FYI: As soon as an image is created, whether through photography, drawing, or graphic design program, it is automatically copyrighted.

The Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh

The Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh

Just like you would not take a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr. and put your own name on it or claim that Van Gogh’s The Starry Night is your own original art work, you should not take a graphic, photograph, or image from anyplace on the interwebs and then just plop it into your own blog without proper ownership acknowledgement (and permission). Okay, not perfect analogies. It is okay to place a famous quote in your blog and you may use The Starry Night as well because it is now public domain — the copyright has expired (still, you need to acknowledge the creator). Confusing, I know. A better example would be using one of Andy Warhol’s paintings. His work is still copyrighted. The Green Light Foundation handles licensing for Warhol’s work. You cannot use any of Andy Warhol’s graphics in your blogs without violating copyright law.

If you see something cool on Pinterest or on Google Images and want to use that image in a blog post, you need to do the following:

1. Ask permission from the copyright holder AND
2. Receive permission from the copyright holder AND
3. Acknowledge the original artist by name (photographer, writer, designer) on your blog with a link to their blog or website. OR
4. Purchase the image from a stock photography website (buy a subscription and get a bunch of images to use on your blog — it is quite affordable).

But Google Images are Free!

Hey, we all do it. We go to Google.com, type in a search request and then click “Images” for that page full of pictures so you can illustrate your point on your blog. It is just too easy to “Save” to our computers and upload to our own blogs. But it is not only wrong and dishonest, it is illegal. At the least you are benefiting from another person’s work without rewarding that person. At the worst you are stealing. I sell photographs on stock photography websites. I will sell you any photo of mine if you would like to buy it from me. Just don’t take it and use it without permission. Heck, I would most likely grant permission to use a photograph as long as you put my name on it and link back to my blog. But I want to be asked, and I should be asked for permission.

Photos from my own garden.

Screenshot of my blog showing photos from my own garden.


Google “Images” is not a free image site. Google did not pay for those images or gain rights from their owners and, therefore, cannot give you permission to use them (and citing Google as the source is insufficient). Those images are search engine results, thumbnails to guide you to the page where the image is located. The images are to be looked at online and then, if you want to reuse any of them for any purpose, you must ask permission of the owner of the image. Click on the “Visit Page” part of the image pop-up, find the “contact” information for that page and ask for permission to use that image. Wow, that’s a lot of work. Well, someone created the image in the first place, uploaded it and placed it in the online content. That was a lot of work, too.

Watermarks are So Ugly

So, that is why I use watermarks on my photographs. Yes, they interfere with the aesthetics, the mood of the photographs, but I don’t feel that I have any choice. One of my kids said the only photos he won’t “grab” are those with watermarks on them. Yes, I took some time to explain copyrights and ownership to him on the spot.

Winter scene taken by ME with a huge, in your face watermark

Winter scene taken by ME with a huge, in your face watermark

Create a Link using Images

By the way, there is a way to create a link on any media added to your blog when you are filling in the caption, description, etc. Check out The Starry Night image above; if you mouseover you see that it links to Wikipedia where I got the image from. To create an outside link (vs. opening a larger version of the image on your blog) choose “Custom URL” and fill in the URL to link any image you use back to its owner. Do not use the link to embed the photo (that uses their server space and bandwidth for your blog — a huge no-no), but you do want a click-through, a link unless you purchased the image (then you need to follow the guidelines for how you can legally use that image). If you want the link to open a separate tab or browser window just add the following: target=”_blank” before closing the <a tag. I then use the “Caption” field to acknowledge the creator.

What is Copyright?

Copyright FAQs Krannert Memorial Library, University of Indianopolis. Want more information on copyrights? This is a great page explaining how it works, what IS public domain, what is NOT public domain and so on.

Thanks for reading and respecting. Let’s all be honorable bloggers.

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3 responses »

  1. Hi Michele, I just took down a post I did a few days ago, that I thought was okay when I did it, however since I posted it this is the second thing I’ve read that has made me think otherwise. I’ve seen so many people (actually many of my favorite very high profile bloggers) publish tons of posts with links to the source like I did, but I’m understanding that it really isn’t okay to do that? How do you put the watermark on your photos? I’ve been meaning to do that too! Good post, I’m hoping it isn’t because of the one I published on MLK day! Yikes! Michele

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    • Are you talking about reblogging? I have never done that myself. It is okay to place links to other sites in your blog posts. As far as reblogging I would think it is okay as long as permission is granted from the original poster. And no, it wasn’t you.

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    • Oh, about the watermarks. I use Adobe Lightroom which places them on the photos when I export. You can create a watermark in a graphic design program such as Paint Shop Pro as well using layers which is what I did before I had Lightroom. The watermarks I use are just visual. There is a separate digital watermark that can be used but requires registration with a central database (which I need to do as well).

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