I wanted to blog about the conflict in Libya and decided to post an image of Gaddafi. Since I won’t likely have the chance to shoot a picture of him using my camera, I need to take one from the internet. Seems simple right? Not! So I decided to postpone my opinion regarding Libya for this information.
As a software developer, I was exposed to different legalities of using somebody else’s work, a.k.a. Licenses. So I thought there might be something related to taking images from the internet or just simply linking them to your blog. What I read stunned me. There are actual cases that bloggers sued / were sued because of copyright infringement, there’s even one case from the Philippines involving a blogger and Manila Bulletin. Demands cost from a simple warning to actually paying up a large amount of money, ~$5,000 – $7.6 Million… yes $7,600,000!
What’s the lesson here? Do not use somebody else’s image or better yet, any copyrighted work because it’s considered stealing. Don’t use Google image search to search for images and link it to your blog, it is most likely that those images are copyrighted. It is better to assume that an image is protected by copyright law unless explicitly stated. Even if you can’t see anywhere on the page regarding a license agreement in using an image, the law provides full copyright protection to the author.
So where do I find free images? There are many resource sites that offer free images, royalty-free. These include Flickr, Wikipedia, and sxc.hu to name a few. Take note though that not all images on Flickr and Wikipedia are free to use and link to your blog and even those free ones in many cases, need attribution of the original author. This is especially enforced in the Create Commons License Agreement; the author can even choose how he or she will be attributed. I can’t stress this enough, look for the license agreement of the picture you are about to use before linking it in your blog entry!