I have been accused of copyright infringement.
Me! Sweet old Cordelia’s Mom!
Who gives change back to the store cashier if an error is made!
Yes, I have been thus accused. But it wasn’t totally my fault.
May you rest in peace, Paul Curran.
I told you this might happen some day.
Recently, a comment appeared on one of Paul Curran‘s guest posts indicating that several photos included with that post had been used without the photographer’s permission, and demanding that those photos be deleted immediately.
Those of you who have guest posted for me know that I am very, very careful about the photos I use on my blog. If the photos are not the personal work of the guest poster, I require links to the photographic source – and I track those links to make sure they’re valid. I also make every effort to determine that the photographs are Creative Commons licensed and/or may be used on a non-income-producing blog like mine. Oftentimes, I email the photographer to ask for permission to use a photo.
Paul knew this. I drove him absolutely mad with my requirements. Many times, I rejected his proposed pictures and substituted my own. He wasn’t always happy about it, but understood my fear of being accused of stealing someone else’s work.
Such fear was one of the reasons I began doing my own photography. I don’t have to vet myself, right?
In any event, when Paul presented me with the guest post in question (no, I won’t tell you which one – go back and read all his posts and try to figure out which one is missing pictures!), I noted that the photos were not only not Creative Commons licensed but were linked to a site that did not allow general use of the photographer’s work. So, I emailed the photographer. At least I thought I had emailed the photographer.
As it turned out, the person who gave permission to use the photos was not the photographer, but rather was one of his former colleagues who apparently chose to claim ownership of the photos. I unwittingly ran with that permission.
This was a couple of years ago, mind you. That particular post became the single most viewed post on my blog – which sort of ticked me off, because it was Paul’s work, not mine. (But hey, readership is readership, right? And everyone did, and still does, love Paul!)
A part of me (the part that created my currently silent alter-ego) felt like pointing out to the photographer that he got a lot of people viewing his work that maybe wouldn’t have seen it otherwise, and maybe he should be happy about it. I wasn’t making any money on the post, so where’s the harm?
Still, copyright infringement is copyright infringement – and I took the photos down.
In all fairness, the photographer in question subsequently emailed to admit that he had, in fact, given permission for one of the three photos. However, to be safe, I deleted all of them. The story runs just fine without the photos. My nasty little alter-ego wants to jump up and say, “So there! Now you’ve lost some views, Mr. Photographer!”
But that photographer had every right to bring the issue to my attention, and he has since become a follower. I do not want to lose even one of my followers. Best just to make amends.
Lesson learned. Advice to all you newbies out there:
Be safe. Use your own art work, even if you think it’s nothing special. At least you know you own it.
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Image by Cordelia’s Mom