blog word cloud on digital tabletThere is a major problem brewing for bloggers – penalties for copyright infringement on images.

In the last few years, there has been numerous reports on the internet about Getty Images suing blog owners and companies for thousands of pounds for using licensed photos.

Getty has opened a can of worms and now, online businesses that use their own photographs are suing bloggers and rival companies for copyright infringement as well.

According to PicScout, 85% of images on the internet are posted without proper licensing. For the most part, this is because bloggers are not aware of copyright laws, but also because the owners have not labelled photos properly.

It is a common factor that photos taken from Google images – even create commons – do not have a license permission or owner to contact. Many of them read “may be subject to copyright laws” but give no other information.

Whilst this does not mean you have the right to use the image, if there are no contact details, how can ask for permission. Of course, we could just blame Google.

Getty threats

Getty Images are a photo stock agency professional photographers use to license their images. Because Google did not protect the images from copyright infringement, it was all too easy for webmasters to use them.

In response Getty started issuing threatening letters for copyright infringement. The letters are always threatening. A law agency in the States has set up a defence for small businesses claiming that whilst Getty Images may be legally right, they are morally wrong.

Getty however, have a responsibility to protect their clients work. Therefore, it makes sense for them to recover fees that have not been paid.

The problem bloggers have is rival firms and other image owners are chasing them for payment of copyright infringement. If this culture becomes widespread, freelancers, small businesses and personal interest bloggers are going to be left in tatters.

What is copyright?

Copyright is a license automatically given to the creator of intellectual property. It can be something you wrote, a piece of music, a patent, and in this case a photograph.
However, as the owner of copyrighted material, you have the option to keep all rights reserved to yourself, part rights or release rights.

If all rights are reserved, nobody can use your intellectual property for commercial purposes without your permission. Part rights usually involve the owner being credited. When you release rights in the creative commons anybody can use your material without permission.

Sourcing creative commons images

To avoid infringing on copyright, the best solution is to use your own images. Alternatively, use image banks that offer free stock images. The problem here is that many images are poor. However, there are several goods options.
A View On Cities
• Flickr.creative commons
Free Images

The best practice is to avoid copyright infringement, but for many bloggers it is already too late. If you do get a threatening letter from Getty or any other copyright owner, ask them to grant you a cease and desist.

However, it’s a guarantee that unscrupulous firms will want payment – which is why they are chasing bloggers in the first place. Do they have any regard for lives they might wreck? Probably not.

Laws are put in place to help government’s divide and conquer the people. And like fools we fall for it and turn against one another. If small business owners do not support one another, the corporate Getty’s of this world will trample all of us.
And Google will not come to your rescue!