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The Quest For Legitimate Images

Posted by on Aug 11, 2010

You know, there are times when you battle with ethical issues, and you’re either ready to give up on them or just move on. I don’t struggle with that issue often, but once I think about something that involves an ethical decision, I just have to work my way through it.

photo by ryancr

This time, the ethical thing concerns images that I’ve been putting into this blog. Truth be told, for me there were two issues out there. One, those images that you knew belonged to someone else, and two, those that you couldn’t confirm.

Of course, there’s been the debates and the discussions I’ve seen online. My friend Scott, who has a photography blog, got me into a discussion one day on the topic. My point to him is that I have papers filed with the government proving my copyright, that I can put a symbol on any of my work (I’ve got music and my first book copywritten), and that by adding that copyright symbol at the end of my stuff (and, these days, that copyright thing you see at the end of most of my posts), show that I own the copyright. However, with images, if there’s no watermark, or no copyright symbol on a website, or no attribution anywhere, that it becomes very difficult to figure out whether an image has a copyright or not. His belief is that one can always find it; mine is that at times it’s literally impossible.

Regardless, the issue is still out there. Now, I’m not saying that I’m going to do this for every image, because I sometimes get an image from Imagekind, which I’m an affiliate for, and of course there are times when you know someone put together a mashup of sorts that, if there’s a copyright that’s been violated, so be it, but there is a way to help get around this type of thing.

If you notice, today’s image and yesterday’s image has attribution. It turns out that you can get images from Flickr, a site I’d never gone to unless someone sent me a picture they wanted me to send and it was there, and find images you can use. Seems there’s this search function you can select that will find photos based on a description you put in and, most of the time, they allow you to use the image if you give them attribution and link back to their Flickr page with the image.

I’m not going to portray myself as any kind of genius for figuring this out, however. I got the information from Hubspot’s story titled How To Use Creative Commons To Add Images To Your Blog. There’s a video there, and I’m really glad because I wouldn’t have figured it out without that. And there’s one other thing. Something they tell you that you can do in the video is actually something you can only do if you have a Flickr account, which I won’t because I don’t have any photos that I’m ever going to pop up on any site like that. So, I have to do it the long way, write my code and add the image in a much different way. But no matter; at least I’ve found a place where, if I use those images, I know I’m in the clear.

Powers Collectibles Willie Mays and Willie McCovey Autographed NL Baseball

Powers Collectibles Willie Mays and Willie McCovey Autographed NL Baseball

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Nicely written, Mitch! I hope others will take your example. Just for the record, any photos found on my blog can also be used in this fashion as long as a link back and credit is given (i.e., attribution).

August 11th, 2010 | 9:55 AM

Thanks Scott. It’s easy to allow my ignorance to let me get away with stuff, but ultimately if I can help it that’s not the right way to go. I wish I knew how to create images like some people do, but I don’t have that kind of vision anyway.

August 11th, 2010 | 10:14 AM

Thanks for this little post Mitch. Incidentally, my recent post was written after a tech blogger cribbed about his content being stolen but I found that some of his blog posts have images taken from elsewhere and he branded it with his website URL. Sometimes there’s no copyright or license ethics followed!

August 11th, 2010 | 2:23 PM

Ajith, I read your post first, and now I’m back here. I think there are times when people know images aren’t yours, and other times when they might be led to think that, just like with content. My words are always mine; images… rarely. But I came to a decision that I can now live with and maybe others will as well. Stay tuned for part two coming up tomorrow.

August 11th, 2010 | 4:55 PM

Awesome! I was gonna ask you about putting images in blog posts!

August 11th, 2010 | 4:08 PM

Good deal, Keith. I think we’re always learning something new.

August 11th, 2010 | 4:56 PM

Try using Zematha, Mitch, it is picking GPL and royalty free images from Wikipedia and Flickr. It is not SEO friendly, but it saves time and images looks good.

August 12th, 2010 | 9:09 AM

Karen, is there a specific link to that page? It’s not coming up for me.

August 12th, 2010 | 9:42 AM

Mitch, I told you back in Feb where you could find images for your blog. However you chose to ignore the fact and argue with me that you were within your right to use those images.

I told you in my post, which can be found linked to my name

Search Flickr for photos tagged Creative Commons or copyleft.

August 12th, 2010 | 1:40 PM

And you want to feel superior by saying it to me 3 times here why?

August 12th, 2010 | 7:11 PM

I’m not trying to act superior or am I superior or do I want to feel superior. lol

Based on your post it sounded as though you had just stumbled upon the Flickr thing.

August 12th, 2010 | 10:41 PM

I did. When I commented on your article back in February, I never went to Flickr. I never even thought about it and then the thought was gone. Once I started thinking about it after talking to Scott, and then saw the post that I linked to, and that was the first time it hit my conscious.

August 12th, 2010 | 10:49 PM

I meant that you had just heard about it. Oh well! No matter. You’re using it now, which is a good thing. 🙂

August 12th, 2010 | 11:33 PM

It’s very interesting to read about the Creative Commons’ various types of licence. My own work carries an ‘all rights reserved’ copyright symbol on Flickr and on one or two other sites I use to show it, and I do state quite clearly, where needed, my feelings about people using my work. That said, I’ve been wondering about having some stuff (different stuff) in a separat blog, for people to share and haven’t really been able to work out how to do it on the terms I want. One of the CC licences might actually take care of it. So, thanks for that, Mitch – info I needed, now I have!

I don’t quite agree with Scott that one can always find the copyright holder of an image. If something has been ‘shared’ many many times and not attributed to the original owner, then it kind of gets lost. But I, personally, don’t take other people’s images (being an artist I don’t really have need to), and if I wanted to, I’d just ask permission of the author/owner/artist, whatever, at source. I really don’t trust things that have been passed about from one website to another.

By the way, I clicked on the painting you’ve got on your side panel… wanted to find out about the artist/photographer as I’m just curious about people) and thought you might like to know that the name that’s there – don’t know if it appears automatically or if you put it there yours, I’d suspect the former – isn’t the person’s name, it’s his screen name. His name is Mike Dawson. This is a link to his profile page on Imagekind.

Slightly changing the subject – speaking as an artist with experience of selling art… people usually like to know something about the artist or photographer before they buy. So maybe give yourself a helping hand and write a bit about the guy whose work you’re showing? You can get it from his profile or you could even email and ask him for an interview or something. Just an idea.

August 13th, 2010 | 3:41 PM

Hi Val,

Actually, when you go to the page, the business name comes up first, and in my mind that means he wants to get his business name out there instead of his personal name, so I honored that. As a matter of fact, on the page you linked to, he mentions that he uses his screen name, which is the one I used. By contract, I don’t have to include his or any other name at all, but I thought it was more fair to include it.

As to the rest, no, I’m not doing any of that. You see my posts; I don’t have the space or the time to get that deeply into it. This isn’t a photography blog, and I’m not writing about artists in that fashion. Now, if I ever went that route, it might make for an interesting blog; heck, maybe that’s something more up your alley, as an artist. 🙂

And you’re lucky you can create your own images. I’m a writer and I used to be a composer; if I could include little music snippets with each post… no, those days are over as well.

August 13th, 2010 | 5:23 PM

Yep, get your points!
What sort of music did you compose, btw? I know you don’t want to put any here, but I am curious! My husband is a muso too… has composed stuff, plays stuff.

August 13th, 2010 | 9:02 PM

I’d have to say I wrote what would mainly be called album cuts back in the day. Most of my songs would have actually worked better as showtunes, the sad ones of course. I did compose a couple of classical pieces of sorts, one which was actually written as theme music for a video game that was never completed, the other a long form piece that took me longer than anything else I ever wrote because it was meant to be, well, more of a short orchestral piece at some point.

August 13th, 2010 | 9:16 PM