I read an article this week 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 am going to spend time going through my blog posts and removing 'googled' images to be replaced with images of my own making.
And then I think I will make a disclaimer that any image on my blog is free for sharing. 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?