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Images, URL's, what's allowable - confusion abounds

  1. LetterWriter profile image62
    LetterWriterposted 5 years ago

    I want to write a HUB and it will discuss about a dozen online images. I want the reader to be able to see the images as I include them with my writing in my HUB article.

    I could try to get approval for all of them, but it's unlikely that will happen. What are my best options? To ask the reader to contact me privately for the links to the jpegs? To name the websites in the HUB article? I think that the only way the article will be effective for the reader is to have the images with the article. I'm not sure what my options are and I don't want to break the rules; I'd appreciate any direction you may offer.


    1. kschang profile image90
      kschangposted 5 years ago in reply to this

      Here's a bit of compromise:

      Include a VERY small preview / thumbnail, say, size of a postage stamp. With a link to the webpage which contains the full image.

      The thumbnail can be construed as "fair use" to discuss the image without making it a full-scale rip-off. Make sure you link to the real source both in the text.

      I am not a lawyer so I am not qualified to discuss what constitutes fair use or not, but IMHO that should cover yourself sufficiently.

      1. Sally's Trove profile image99
        Sally's Troveposted 5 years ago in reply to this

        Include the thumbnail where, in the Hub or in the email request for permission? If the thumbnail is in the Hub, and the image is copyrighted, then fair use does not apply. Doesn't matter what size the image is. Maybe I've misunderstood you.

        1. kschang profile image90
          kschangposted 5 years ago in reply to this

          I don't think a thumbnail of a copyrighted image is necessarily automatically disqualified as "fair use". But then, as I said, I'm not a lawyer.

          From Stanford Center of Copyright and Fair Use: "In its most general sense, a fair use is any copying of copyrighted material done for a limited and "transformative" purpose such as to comment upon, criticize or parody a copyrighted work. "

          There is no attempt to reproduce the whole work, and there is attempt to comment upon and/or criticize a copyrighted work. I personally think that a low-res thumbnail would qualify as fair use. I am interested in hearing what you think about it, besides a categorical "no!" smile

          1. Sally's Trove profile image99
            Sally's Troveposted 5 years ago in reply to this

            I'm not a lawyer either.

            I take exception to your making a distinction between a thumbnail or a low-res image and the image in its entirety.

            You just ran full circle around my point. Go ahead and publish it on HP and do the due diligence to get permission. While you wait for permission, you are engaging in that limited and transformative "purpose". "There is no attempt to reproduce the whole work" is a shady area when it applies to an image.

            I don't necessarily want to belabor this between you and me. If there's an attorney out there who would like to shed some light on this, that would be helpful.

            1. kschang profile image90
              kschangposted 5 years ago in reply to this

              I guess my question is "how did you came to the conclusion that thumbnail / low-res image is NOT considered fair use?" 

              I think I've presented why I think it can be construed as fair use. Your turn. smile

    2. Marisa Wright profile image91
      Marisa Wrightposted 5 years ago in reply to this

      Letterwriter, to get back to the original question.

      All photos on the internet are copyright UNLESS there is a note somewhere that says otherwise.  It's a very clear, easy to understand rule - unfortunately, the rule is broken so often, it's natural to start wondering if it exists, or imagine that some people are finding a legal way round it.  They're not - they're just getting away with it, because there's no easy way for photographers to check where and how their images are being used.

      As a writer, I'm sure you'd be upset if someone used your work without asking first.  So it's only fair to accord that same courtesy to a photographer or painter.

      For me, it's rather like littering.  If you walked down the street in a rundown part of town, you might think there can't possibly be a law against littering.  But does that mean you'd start throwing your wrappers and empty cans on the street too?  Just because other people are doing the wrong thing, doesn't make it right.

      So the first thing to do is to check if there's a licence of any kind on the page with the photo.  If it's on Wikimedia Commons, for instance, it's usually either free to use or under Creative Commons licence and you don't need permission - you just have to credit the source.

      What are the photos of?

  2. Sally's Trove profile image99
    Sally's Troveposted 5 years ago

    What I have done often, with great success, is publish the article with the image in place, properly credited with a link to the source page, and then send the Hub's link to the copyright holder of the image. Request permission to use the photo and give a reason why the photo is so important to your text. Finish your email message with words to the effect, "If you have an objection to the way I've used your image, please let me know and I'll remove it."

    I've never been turned down. However, I always have a Plan B of another image just in case the copyright holder doesn't grant permission.

    If you could be more specific about the sources (why do you think it would be unlikely to get "approval"?), I might have more suggestions. For example, if the photos are for sale on line, then you won't be able to use them without purchasing them.

    1. LetterWriter profile image62
      LetterWriterposted 5 years ago in reply to this

      Thanks for your response. The images are mostly very old or somewhat ancient images from old sources or collections. I think that finding the person in charge and getting them to respond when funds are so tight and with minimal staff might be a concern. Thanks for your tip - I think it's useful.

      1. Sally's Trove profile image99
        Sally's Troveposted 5 years ago in reply to this

        The photo I used from the early 1900s in my Hub about S&H Green Stamps appeared on a small website. I emailed the site owner using the contact info on the site, writing the kind of message I described to you. The site owner was not the copyright holder, but was gracious enough to contact the holder for me. When I thanked him for his effort, I said, "If the holder objects, please let me know." I never heard back, and I also never got a "no."

        I print out copies of requests for permission and file them, so I'm covered whether there's a "yes" or a nothing.

        I'll add that all folks I've contacted this way who have responded with "yes" were quite pleased to have a link to their site published here on HP.

  3. sunforged profile image69
    sunforgedposted 5 years ago

    Ill interject that if you contacted me after the fact for permission to use any of my visual or textual work I would say no and if it was important enough to me, follow up with a bill for your illicit use of my copyrighted material for commercial gains.

    I would even have a convenient timestamped email to show off your theft and intention.

    You get permission then you post, especially if your using it in a commercial manner. If you cant find permission , then you dont have permission.

    There are many individuals with lawyers on staff who would like nothing more than to crush you and sue you for damages and infringement.

    Did I read this wrong?

    The OP said, I want to use some photos in my commercial project but am not sure if i can get permission from the rights holder

    the response is, use it, then tell them and ask permission?

    that may work just fine - but it is not the correct method of using anothers creative property

    1. Sally's Trove profile image99
      Sally's Troveposted 5 years ago in reply to this

      You are right that it is not the correct way to go about gaining permission. However, it works.

      Maybe your first reaction now is to say no to an author with the audacity to put your good stuff out there, but when presented with the benefits to you, you might say yes. If you don't, then fine, the property disappears. Asked and answered.

      And, BTW, I'm not "thefting" anything. As kschang pointed out, a limited purpose may be acceptable.

      Are you a lawyer?

      Look at it this way, sunforged, when someone wants to use your stuff and makes an effort in your direction by showing you how your image or text or whatever can be used in a place that will get you a good link or another benefit, that you can also refuse if you want to, what's the harm?

      The harm is when people pirate your stuff with no attempt to even acknowledge where they got your material. That's happened to me plenty of times, and I've addressed it one-on-one, with success. But if someone emails me, shows me where they've used my work, why, and how, I have respect for that. I can refuse their request, but I've never had to.

      1. sunforged profile image69
        sunforgedposted 5 years ago in reply to this

        lol - well i do have a pre-law degree, but thats not quite the same smile. This isnt a complicated legal question though and I was answering as an hypothetical outraged rights holder not in any way a balanced legal response

        My, no , would be a result of an after the fact permission request, on principle. I suspect that most are not online savvy and are very happy to have their photos and names in places where more eyes might see them.

        Its only when you cross someone in the online business that an issue would arise. We are not so quickly impressed by reuse of our property and will expect licensing fees or have strict requirements as to how it is credited. failure to ask beforehand would be seen as a failure

        In most cases "fair use" is flexible enough to get away with most anything if you can phrase it right.(seems to me, bigger budget wins this one when it comes to actual legal issues) But the OP specifically has stated that the text is built around the images, not the reverse. So the images would be intrinsic to her commercial success and if you got to the grit of it - she wouldnt be protected by fair use as precedent stands.

        99% of the time, who would care or notice?

        I would link to some precedent but google seems to be broken smile

        I dont think you are a thief and your method would work fine on me as long as you were not a hubpages author or somewhere else I would immediately associate with commercial intent. I would be happy to share with a nice hobby blog or similar and wouldnt be so harsh about when and how permission was requested.

      2. Marisa Wright profile image91
        Marisa Wrightposted 5 years ago in reply to this

        Sally, Sunforged may not be a lawyer but what he says is correct.  What you are doing is, strictly speaking, an infringement of the person's copyright (even if it is only temporary).

        However, as you say, it works and I don't think it's doing any harm PROVIDED you're setting a tight deadline for the owner's response (e.g. if you haven't had a reply within a week, you remove the photo) AND that you don't take silence as consent.

        Bear in mind that just because you sent an email doesn't mean the copyright owner received it, so you can't take a lack of response to mean they don't care.

        1. Sally's Trove profile image99
          Sally's Troveposted 5 years ago in reply to this

          Marisa, have you ever tried this technique? And if you don't mind, where's the precedent for having to set a tight deadline or not taking silence as consent?

          There's a lot of grey area here. As there is all over the place. But when individuals can agree, that's a positive step in going forward to wherever this all goes, around the globe and around the Internet.

          If I were a multi-billion dollar business, I wouldn't be proposing this way of asking for permission to use others' property (unless I'd seen the light). I'd have my lawyers doing that for me. Then the lawyers would have fat fees, everyone would be in litigation, and nothing would be accomplished, except that the cost of living would continue to rise.

          What I propose is a good faith action.

          I don't need a lecture.

          If I ever get called on this in a big way, you will be the first to hear about it, I promise.

          1. Marisa Wright profile image91
            Marisa Wrightposted 5 years ago in reply to this

            Like I said, I do see the value in your method, which demonstrates your intention to the copyright owner so they're more likely to give consent.  But you are using the image without permission, so you have to set a limit on how long you leave it there.

            There is no grey area - if an image is copyrighted, you can't publish it without permission.  Period. There only seems to be a grey area, because stealing of images is rampant on the internet.  I can understand people thinking, "everyone else is doing it, why shouldn't I?" but it comes down to personal integrity.  As a writer, I feel it's hypocritical to expect people to respect my copyright, if I don't respect other people's. 

            So, you know you're doing something borderline illegal and taking advantage of the work of a fellow artist, but it's OK as long as you don't get caught.  That wouldn't sit comfortably with my conscience, but I guess different people have different standards.

            1. Sally's Trove profile image99
              Sally's Troveposted 5 years ago in reply to this

              Your post doesn't deserve a reply.

              I'm sorry, LetterWriter, for where this went, but I do hope you got something useful out of it.

    2. sunforged profile image69
      sunforgedposted 5 years ago

      a fun anti my position point - traditionally "out of print" stuff is more flexible in regards to fair use application, her predicament seems relevant.

      1. Sally's Trove profile image99
        Sally's Troveposted 5 years ago in reply to this

        I thought about that too, given the copyright expiration in the US is around 70 to 120 years after the creation of the work, depending on circumstances (and it may be less).

        As to any position point you may have, as it may be extended to future circumstances: I guarantee you I will be the first Internet writer to use your works and notify you after the fact. Many smile