As you may have noticed, October was a pretty poor month posting-wise here at limeduck world headquarters.  I was therefore quite excited to see a new inbound link in my dashboard.  I followed it and found another example of an all-too-common blogging phenomenon: grabbing peoples’ photos to illustrate your posts without permission or attribution.

Knitter laid off from bakery Savory Scone Update

Since the post was about being laid off from working at a bakery (and as of this writing, the author is still unemployed), I felt sort of bad dropping a stink bomb in the comments. I can’t stay mad at the unemployed knitting blogger, but I can complain that this practice is widespread in personal and even corporate blogs, and it really must stop.  I often cite Fair Use, but this is not it.  Fair Use is, among other things, publishing a portion of  a copyrighted work to illuminate a discussion or review of that work.  The attribution is clear because you’re discussing that work.

Blogging about how frustrated you are by  your cell phone carrier (a common enough blog topic) does not mean you can just search the net for “frustration” or “cell phone plan” and clip one of the image results for your post.  You’ve got to make an attempt to find out the copyright status of the image and do the right thing.

I’m sure you can find times when I’ve done it wrong (do let me know, I’d like to fix them), but here’s what I try to do these days:

  • Try to use my own work as much as possible
  • Sample others’ works when discussing them, but keep it clear what’s quoted and keep images and media small/short or embedded
  • Use product images when discussing those products
  • Always link the image to the source (source web page, not source image) and attribute with at least <alt> text, preferably caption or nearby copy

Copyright and Fair Use are not quite fully adapted to the internets yet, but I’m trying to hold up my end.  I hope other bloggers will think a little more about their image-acquisition habits.