Bloggers, Protect Your Content

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I am grumpy, dear readers.  Perhaps I should be flattered that an online “newspaper” would want to use my photography on their site.  But I wasn’t, once I discovered they ignored a professional courtesy – they didn’t link back.

They used the pix to promote restaurants – a shot of my home cooking in my home kitchen, puhleeze.  They must have figured the “photo credit” was all that was necessary.  Dear readers, there was a time when publications PAID photographers or a wire service for shots they used, each use had its own fee (use it twice, pay for it twice).  In today’s world, none of us expects compensation, but I’d say we should at least be appreciated for our work with a courtesy of “in kind value.”  LINK BACK, folks.

I emailed the writer, editor, webmaster and left a voicemail; a snotty toned email response from their Online Food Editor smacked of, “Hey ding-dong lady, it’s all YOUR fault.” But, they removed my pix (I took a screen shot first) and they replaced it with another bloggers’ shot.

I learned a lot quickly.  Especially boosted by the fact that about two hours after my discovery and outgoing communiqué, I was at the birthday party of a top LA litigator, surrounded by partying attorneys and had the pleasure of eating birthday cake with a Copyright Law Professor who was sweet to give me Free Advice.  😉  Me-thinks Mr. Snotty Editor believes bloggers have no heft behind us.

The next morning in the same hour of Mr. Snotty Editor’s email was also a helpful email from Flickr.  Here is what I’ve done since, and perhaps you might consider some of these, too:

  1. On Flickr, I set my photos for “no download” to discourage unbeknownst downloading of my content.  I have to think through this more carefully down the road, but for now, I did what Flickr suggested.
  2. On Flickr, I removed the Creative Commons license, but kept it on my blog.  Every one of my Flickr photos has its corresponding blog link.  If someone sees the photo, they MIGHT then go to the blog and read my very simple and friendly steps to sharing.
  3. I reread my Legal, Policies, Contact page and refined some wording to hopefully be clearer.  My guess is, that editor never visited my link.
  4. I suggest bloggers sign up for free Google Alerts – it takes just a few minutes for a post to be alerted to you, very cool tool.  I’m always excited to get alerts because it most often means someone is linking back to my blog (thank you, friends); not this time.
  5. Save a screen shot of violations quickly.  It helps when filing a complaint with Yahoo’s Copyright and Intellectual Property Infringement Agent.
  6. Copy any emails from such publications into the same file.  Mr. Snotty, your email is a treasured keepsake.
  7. Have friends who are attorneys.  This isn’t a joke.  Ply them occasionally with a fresh-baked poundcake and they tend to dish good advice.
  8. Keep learning.  Let’s all attend any sessions on this subject at future blogging conferences.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ally March 8, 2010 at 1:10 pm

Thank you for sharing this. Whenever I blog about a recipe or use a photo that I found elsewhere, I do my best to link, leave a note letting the person know, and remove it if they request. I hope others will be more conscious of doing the same!

2 Jeff Parker August 22, 2009 at 1:37 pm

Great info, Patti! Thanks for sharing your experience.

3 Joan Nova August 21, 2009 at 5:09 am

Thanks for sharing your suggestions (in a very well scripted way).

4 mariah808 August 18, 2009 at 7:49 pm

I work advertising, ironically enough, and I’ve never seen anyone in the biz that I’ve worked with have the “stones” to steal any photos. Love the poetic justice with the copyright lawyers!

5 dimpleartsphotography August 18, 2009 at 10:03 am

I am just starting out in this arena and read about this happening too much already. Good thing you caught it early and stood up for your work.

6 Marye August 17, 2009 at 3:11 pm

Good luck with that. I had a national magazine steal my work and would not even respond to lawyers. The have more money to fight it than I have to pursue it. I hear your pain.this has happened to me way too much!

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