Changes in using blog images
We recently wrote about a new stunt being pulled by photographers wherein images are being posted on photo sharing sites like Flickr.com with full creative commons licensing indicating that anyone can use them for free for commercial use or changed for use and then changing the permissions to all rights reserved.
Then, this small but growing group emails unsuspecting bloggers and informs the blogger they are in violation and are not within their rights to use the images. Sometimes threats of lawsuits are attached, other times there are heated emails with pointed questions and sometimes simple requests to remove the image. Sometimes it takes days, other times years, but when permissions change, bloggers can be confused when they get notifications.
How we at AGBeat are combating this problem
Because there is little precedent set in this matter, we have taken all precautions possible here at AG and created our own system that we wanted to share with you in an effort to help you safeguard your own website and play fair in a world of creative commons.
First, we only search for images in Flickr’s advanced search and only search within creative commons for commercial use and for attribution. This is the most extreme way to protect yourself and the images that result could technically even be used in your print marketing mailers (meaning no link, no credit, no royalties, no charge).
Here are all the boxes we select:
The description has several parts:
- “CC licensed image” which indicates the image being used was searched using only a Creative Commons filter (the first box selected in the advanced Flickr search).
- “for commercial use” is the second box selected meaning you have used the filter that allows you to use the image in advertising.
- “and adaptation” is the third box selected that means you’re allowed to edit the image (which we almost always do).
- “via Flickr.com” notes where we searched for the image because there are multiple places to achieve this.
- “as of 05.19.11” is the MOST important note we make. It notes when the search was performed so that if any photographer that claims they have “all rights reserved” on their images, you have consistent notes of when you searched in case they changed it to threaten you. If you do this for all images, you can show any judge your pattern of playing it safe.
- “(LR)” are my initials because several of us do image searches and edits and this is a signature of who performed the search which is good if you have multiple team members writing.
There is no fool proof way because this is a new problem, but keeping a paper trail is the best way to avoid the headache of the threatening emails. Above all, remember to be fair to photographers and don’t steal their work, only use images that are legal and free.
The above is an opinion, not legal advice.