by Mare Ball @ ADVENTURES IN THE BALLPARK Twitter: @adventuresinbp
In working with a publisher for my book, The 12 Days of Christmas Adventure, I learned how little I understood about copyright. You're probably not as uninformed, or as naive as I was, but just in case there are others who are in the dark on this, here's what I learned this week.
1. All the images on Google - unless cited back to the original owner - are posted illegally. Did you know that? I had not a clue. I thought all those images were up for grabs. Turns out, most images are copies. Or copies of copies. Of copies. Only the original owner/producer/designer has the right to use an image. So, unless you can trace an image back to its origin, and get permission from the owner, you should not use it.
2. Nobody pays attention to the above paragraph. UNLESS, you are using an image for commercial use, meaning you are going to sell it, or use it to sell something. THEN, you must get permission from the owner, because if you do not, you risk being sued. This is mostly what owners care about - who's using my stuff to make money without my permission?
3. It's a fair question. We shouldn't use images that don't belong to us. When I realized I've occasionally used images from Google on my blog, I yanked them all. Even though I was not selling them or using them to sell anything. I probably would have been OK, but I acquired an enlightened understanding this week, and I just want to stick with my own photos from now on.
4. This week, I was surprised to find two of my photographs on another site - a site I didn't care for, and I suddenly knew the feeling: who's using my stuff without my permission? This site was not selling anything with my photos, but I wanted the pictures taken down. I wrote the administrator of the site, and it appears he is going to remove the pictures.
5. In my book, I use several trademarked items - I repurpose them for other things. I've been contacting these companies (Peeps, Rubik's cube, Jordan Almonds, Bananagrams, and others) all week, and I'm happy to say - so far - they are responding positively to my requests. I'm receiving permission to use images of their products in my book. I'm so grateful. And I'm feeling very safe.
6. I'm having a lawyer look over every word of my manuscript before the final submission of my work to the publisher. This will be a pricey endeavor, but I'm proud of this book, and I think it's worth the investment.
7. Watermark all of your photos you are going to use online. I use Picasa Photo Viewer. Very easy.
Maybe you knew all of this. I, clearly, was not clear on it. I'm also not clear on "public domain" or "fair use." These are other terms that apply to use of online images. These terms are more murky in their description of who owns what. Until I get it, I'm using my own pictures.
Like this one. I hope this is the cover of my book - a pear in a partridge tree. :-)