Copy(no)rights for Bloggers

When you blog long enough, it’s going to happen; it’s probably going to happen several times over. And it will not stop.

It starts with an email that goes something like this, “Hey, I saw your photo online.”

And before you know it, several more emails follow saying the same thing.

Copyright used to mean something. But that was before Twitter, before Facebook, before blogs…before the Internet—a more civil time when people would respect content creators.

But then the Internet happened and copyright was lost somewhere in the shuffle. Suddenly it was all out there and that meant it was all fair game. Giving credit where credit is due is just a fancy term you steal and use as your own.

Earlier this week, many of you readers emailed to tell me about my photo appearing on StylishEve, who took two of my photos, and made a “pretty” collage; like so many social media websites begging for likes and shares, they shared it as their own. Thousands of likes later, they are still making revenue off a photo that is not theirs. 

I’m not greedy, of course, but I can't imagine the missed opportunity when they have over 10 million fans; my blog is my livelihood, but it’s only polite to give credit to the photo you are sharing. So I emailed them asking them to do the ethical thing—to add credit. They didn't respond to the request.

It’s an all too common story; I’m positive hundreds of you are reading this post and have had it happen yourself. It’s not the first time it’s happened to me. 

I learned this when I began blogging years ago, and I got a desperate email from a photographer. I thought Google images was enough of a source and even now, I try to use Pinterest with a credible source (because we all know there's nothing worse than an amazing photo of food with no link to the recipe, right?) I quickly deleted the post and was too scared to post anything else. A week later I bought my first DSLR. If you can't afford a camera and editing tools, look to photo memberships like Death to Stock Photo or Lightstock, my personal favorites. 

Everyone likes to share things—photos, new stories, videos—it’s a new social world. But consider the source next time you hit submit to a share…seriously consider it. Because whatever you are sharing has a source—a content creator whose livelihood is their creation. There’s nothing wrong with sharing, but there’s something very wrong with sharing and pretending it’s your own. Before you share photos from your favorite blogs—before you tweet to support them—think about what you are supporting; if they don’t cite their sources then find a new place to get your daily dose of Internet goods…there are plenty.