Cheating?

I have a question to pose to fellow bloggers. Are you using your own imagery and photos for which you have obtained permission — or for which you have purchased rights — for illustrating your posts?

© Media General Inc./Mary Garner-Mitchell. Acrylic airbrush, Prisma colored pencils on paper

Quite a few of the interior design blogs in particular have me scratching my head in wonder today. What I’m seeing appears as though some bloggers are downloading photos from other sites or scanning images from shelter magazines, seldom with attribution accompanying the photo or within their post. While Facebook, Pinterest and the like have fostered chronic misuse of imagery, music and prose under the guise of “sharing,” this is truly nothing short of stealing. I’m an illustrator and married to a professional photographer, and neither of us would be exactly thrilled to see our images posted out of context from their original source, and without permission or some mutually agreed upon form of compensation. Coming from a former career in publication design, I understand “fair use.” But imagery that carries the blogger’s story line — for instance a collection of great ideas for a child’s room — is not fair use. What it is at best is cheating, as the unattributable images infer that the blogger is the author of the image and/or its content. This sort of blatant rip off of another’s creative’s work not only puts your blog in a bad light, it is an invitation to a lawsuit, particularly if you are soliciting and/or accepting advertising on your blog. Legitimate publications know better. Bloggers should, too.  And for goodness sake, when you have used another publication’s photo or some creative’s imagery, ask permission, pay if required, and by all means credit the source.

The courts haven’t caught up with online content relative to fair use and copyright (yet), but for those who want to do right by others, here is a simple primer on the unwritten rules of blogging see http://weblogs.about.com/od/bloggingethics/tp/Top3BloggingRules.htm

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