Is Your Blog In Danger Because Of The Images You Use?

Two and a half months ago, I had to change my blog theme… or so I thought. I was internally traumatized for a day or so but finally came to grips with it. Luckily, a friend of mine figured out what I could do instead for my other blogs, but I’d already switched to this one, and I was getting used to how it looked.

Who Knew?

Then, a couple of weeks ago my friend Mitchell Allen started trouble; he’s like that. lol He’d read one of my newer posts and sent me an email. He wondered why there was a strike-through on the links associated with the images I had on that article, wondering if I’d done it on purpose. He also wondered if I’d messed with the CSS code; who, me?

Okay, I’m known as someone who’s always changing something, but that wasn’t something I did. Matter of fact, it’s nothing associated with CSS; it’s an indication of a broken link, which is something totally different.

On that particular article, all 3 images showed a broken link, and that didn’t make sense. All I’d done was link back to the person on Pixabay whose image I used, giving that person attribution as requested. I even clicked on the link and it took me right to the person’s page there; matter of fact, all of the links took me back.

However… what had changed were the images; they were no longer there under the names of those photographers. What was going on?

On a fluke, I decided to do an image search on Google. It turns out that not only were those images used multiple times, which I knew was possible, but someone else had been the primary photographer, and either they listed that image elsewhere or it was their personal property; ugh!

I’ve had articles here about images and copyright in the past. My friend Scott Thomas wrote about images and copyright laws back in 2010 that was important. I wrote about an image copyright problem that hit my accountant’s blog (I created her website and blog, and I write the articles for it) because of a graphic that was in the free theme I used. Then in 2016 I talked about starting to use more of my own images more often, which goes against the grain of what some online marketers believe you should do, without mentioning that I’d had my own Getty Images hit from a post 5 years earlier; ugh again!

The thing is, if I’d never had to switch to the new theme, I’d have never known this was a problem. I haven’t had a single strike through on any of my other blogs, nor on my accountant’s blog. I also thought Pixabay, who I’m not linking to, was a safe place for images, but it turns out there are other articles warning about Pixabay images not really belonging to the photographers out there and that you could be putting yourself as risk by using them. Have I said “ugh” yet?

Well… this puts me and a lot of other people in a bad spot. Adding images to a blog post helps break up the tedium of reading a long article, and it can help bring attention to it when you’re promoting it. It’s not always easy finding articles that match at least some part of the theme of what you’re writing about. Even though I have lots of pictures I’ve taken over the years, most don’t have any people in them, which always helps because they bring personality to the article.

Turns out that, unless you’re the one who took the picture, you could still be liable for damages if the original photographer doesn’t have a model release form. Even using an image from a site like Flickr that has a Common Creative license saying you can use it for commercial or personal purposes might not be safe because they don’t always verify the ownership; here’s another “ugh” for you…

Well… what do you do with this information? I’ve basically got 10 years worth of image use, across 5 of my blogs and the blogs of others. I don’t have the time to go back and look at all of them, but do I have the money to pay if they’re found on my blogs? Do you?

Since I can see the strike-throughs on this blog, I’m going to be taking some time and reviewing those images, probably removing them and adding one of mine instead. Looking each image up on Pixabay is time consuming, and switching to another site like Unsplash isn’t secure either.

Going forward, y’all might see a lot more of my face; sorry about that. lol You’ll also get to see what interests me enough to take a picture of it. What will you do to protect yourself now that I’ve given you warning about what you might be up against?

28 thoughts on “Is Your Blog In Danger Because Of The Images You Use?”

  1. Now that you have warned me, I shall be careful in future. I use a lot of images downloaded from google images and some may indeed lead me to trouble thought, so far, I have not had any grief.

  2. Hmmm, maybe I’d better not cancel my StoryBlocks account. As we always hear, “you get what you pay for.” I have Pixabay images sprinkled throughout my blog. I may have to look for alternatives, even if the source is legit. Why take chances, right?

    Thanks for sharing this information.



    1. Yes indeed, and I’m glad you started all this trouble! lol I’d have probably never noticed the broken links… although it’s strange because the links weren’t actually broken in the standard way. Weird stuff.

  3. I also use a lot of images in my blog but one thing I do with all my images is I compress them in very low size so they will rank batter and also it reduces my page size…

  4. I stopped using these free sites about 12 months ago after a blogger friend of mine got hit with a bill for using a picture from one of these sites. They go through periods of hitting bloggers with bills for the use of a photograph. I use stockunlimited and pay for a 3 year subscription when it’s on offer.

    1. I’m way too trusting, but those days are gone now. It’s a good thing I take a lot of pictures, even if not of professional quality. With what you do it wouldn’t be the same, but since I give opinions more often than not I can make my own pictures work just fine. If not, at least I won’t have to worry about anyone claiming I stole them.

  5. This is a real danger, very recently a friend of mine’s website was taken down, because of an image that came up with the theme and he forgot to replace. I think I can recall that you also had an odd warning, many years ago, because of one of the theme images, but I might be wrong.

    1. I wouldn’t say everything, but if you even have to think about it then why do it and worry later on? For now, I’ve got so many changes to make as it concerns Pixabay that I’m leaving my Flickr images alone for the time being. That’s the downside of having over 1,800 articles to look at. lol

  6. This is really a big problem for me because just like you, I also thought that Pixabay was a safe place for images. I never thought that there would be a danger when getting pictures from this site which I used for my blogs. Thanks for the warn Mitch, you’ve just saved a lot of bloggers with this article.

    1. Thanks Anna; I certainly hope so. I’m slowly going back through all the articles on this site where I used Pixabay images and I’m deleting them. I still have 4 more blogs to go through after this one; ugh!

  7. Hi Mitch,
    Wow–this is terrible news. I use a WordPress plugin that inserts (supposedly available for commercial use) Pixabay images. All of us might need to have an online party or three where we go through all our blog posts and remove the images.

    P.S. YES–you said ‘UGH’!!!

    1. It seems that “ugh” is my new phrase word lol I’ve got about 20 more articles on this blog to get through, but as I told Anna I still have 4 other blogs I have to do the same with. Better safe than sorry I suppose, but what a major waste of time in a way.

  8. Fortunately, I use a lot of my own photos, and I create them with a graphics program I own. I’m sure there are quite a few images that I have downloaded from the net, but I haven’t the time or inclination to hunt through them all.

    1. You might be out of the reach of a company like Getty. There was an image on a website I’d shut down that some French company tries to get money out of me for using. I never responded, daring them to come to New York and get me… they eventually left me alone. lol I’m using my own images to replace the pictures I’m getting rid of; it’s the safest way to go.

  9. This is terrifying, because I use a lot of stock imagery. I just presume that I’m safe with free stock images, so the fact that I might not be is highly worrying. I think I need to start producing more of my own images. And quickly. Many thanks for warning us all.

    1. Glad to help Claire. I think most of us are way too trusting, especially in 2020. I thought certain sites were safer than others, and now it seems that’s not true either. I’ve almost removed all the Pixabay images, but I’m sticking with the Flickr/Compfight images for now because that would be an overwhelming project.

    1. I think that’s risky, especially if it’s a Getty image. Their scanners will check everything, and if any part of it is found by them they’ll hit you with a copyright lawsuit.

  10. Hi Mitch,
    This is a great reminder to check my images on old blog posts. Lately I’ve been using my own images both on my blog and on social media.
    It receives more attention when I do that. I keep shooting pictures when I’m out and about. I have loads of the beach, but that can wear out fast.
    I think it is a wise choice to use your own picture on your blog posts. Its nice seeing your smiling face.

    1. LOL, thanks Donna! I have lots of pictures, but sometimes it’s hard matching up a picture to the content. I’ve had to work hard to change my thinking on that one because, though it’s cool having images that match the topics, I already had to be creative trying to match other images to blogging. I’ve taken care of all the Pixabay images, but there’s almost 8 years worth of Compfight images and I haven’t had the energy to go through all of them on 3 different blogs; ugh! I figure one step at a time will help; right now that’s the best I can hope for.

  11. Wow Mitch; definitely something to keep in mind. I use my travel images 99% of the time. Legally, I am covered there. But it is worth noting for the few times I used stock images. Ironically, my recent post boasts stock images. I have not used stock images in years on my blog.


    1. You were traveling a lot Ryan, and your pictures highlighted what your blog used to be about. It’s hard fitting regular images into topics like blogging, but from this point on that’s definitely what I’m doing. I don’t want to have to pay anyone else again for something I didn’t know about; ugh!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *