Bloggers stealing other people’s Photographs…

Yesterday I found one of my images used on a website without my permission and with no attempt made at crediting me. So far so typical, what surprised me is that when I contacted the site owner about it they acted as though their behaviour was both normal and acceptable. They offered to remove or credit the image, but their apology was so glib and included the phrase “I thought it would be ok”  that I felt it necessary to point out that I was within my rights to charge them for usage and that they had in fact stolen. (To be clear this was not some teenage blogger but someone who refers to themself as an experienced web-editor)

Their response included  “I really don’t want to get into a discussion about imaged rights on the Internet as its a huge issue with no clear guidelines.”

 This completely shocked me as I thought it was generally understood by professionals in the blogging world that photographers own copyright to their images and permission must be sought  before they are duplicated in any manner, on line or in print.
Looking into the matter further I came across the Mumsnet bloggers network (a huge network of bloggers, who had featured the blog post containing my image) and I looked at their advice for bloggers on use of images. It reads as follows
” If you can, use your own pictures or images that are in the Public Domain.
  • If you’re using other people’s photos or illustrations, get in touch to ask if you can use their picture on your blog. You’d be surprised how nice people usually are about this – but if you’re borrowing a pic from a professional photographer without their permission, they won’t be best pleased.
  • Always credit the photographer/illustrator below the picture. “
I was astounded- “they won’t be best pleased”  – no mention of copyright or usage fees, no mention of legal implications.
(I am contacting Mumsnet to ask them to change their guidelines.)- *they have now changed them update in comments
I appreciate that there is an outdated perception that if an image is on-line its fair game but that is not legally the case and photographers should not expect to have their high quality imagery appropriated by sites that are clearly monetised. Here is a link to a freelance fee guide for online use of images http://www.londonfreelance.org/feesguide/index.php?&section=Photography&subsect=Online+use+of+photos
If sites want quality images they should be happy to pay. If they want to take their own pictures fine, perhaps in attempting this they’ll realise high quality photography is not cheap and easy, and deserves respect.
The law has recently been simplified for photographers to make copyright claims through the small claims court without the need for a solicitor http://www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/courts/patents-court/patents-court-small-claims.pdf  so perhaps once a few bloggers have been required to pay for their thefts a shift in consciousness will occur.

It seems to me only fair to everyone that this issue be highlighted- small websites can ill afford to be sued for mis-use of images, and photographers cannot make a living if supposedly respectable business feel that it is ok to steal their work.

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One thought on “Bloggers stealing other people’s Photographs…

  1. update : mumsnet have now amended their advice to this

    ” If you’re using other people’s photos or illustrations, you must get in touch to ask if you can use their picture on your blog. You’d be surprised how nice people usually are about this – but if you don’t do so, you’ll be infringing their copyright.
    Once you have their permission to use the image, always credit the photographer/illustrator below the picture.”

    I just wish they had done so before I had such an unpleasant exchange with one of their bloggers-I hope they inform their network of the change, I notice they haven’t mentioned it on twitter.

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