I'm posting this to share that I recently shelled out $1,600 for a photo I didn't have copyright to use. Let me explain so that this never happens to you.
Several years ago, I grabbed a picture off Pinterest and used it on my private blog with a post.
Last year, I got a series of letters from an attorney in San Diego representing Masterfile; the folks who held the copyright.
Stupidly, I blew the letters off and thought if I simply take off the picture, I'd be fine. I was completely wrong.
After they sent a certified letter demanding 4,500.00. I decided to contact my lawyer. Long story short, even with an excellent representation on my side, I still ended up paying. Not the $4,500 they demanded. My lawyer negotiated it down. It was absolutely the least they would take. Had I not paid, they were prepared to file a suit.
My lawyer told me that it's an automatic judgement when you go to court, plus you have to pay thier fees. I also found out some pics are embedded with bots that can be found by folks like Getty, Masterfile, etc.
Since that time, I've removed any pictures on my blog that I don't have a license for. I actually pay for pics through various companies now through a subscription. I also use Pixabay and Pexels for free images.
Needless to say, my hubs also only have pics I've got the right to use.
I hope what I've shared here helps to prevent anyone from ever getting into trouble.
PS pic attached is one I own
Thanks for sharing. This happened to someone I know as well who blogs for a large website. She was a guest poster and used an image she didn't have permission to use. The blog had to pay $700.00
Hey, you are super awesome for sharing this! I am so glad that you only utilized one of his pictures, he could have had a field day!!! Thanks again, every bit of knowledge adds to long-term success online.
Thank you and glad this was helpful to you
aerospacefan I can not describe in words how valuable was your sharing about the problem you had faced. I am from Nepal the problem for me would have massive. Thank you
Thank you for sharing your experience with the photos, I made mistakes for my 2nd article but I got feedback and immediately I removed it. Thank you\
Compared to the money most bloggers / hubbers make, 1,600 USD (excluding lawyer expenses) is a disproportionate fine for copyright infringement of one pic. Unfortunately this is the way the legal system is set up. Thanks for sharing your experience in order raise copyright awareness among fellow writers.
The fine is based on what the property is worth when used legally, not what the user makes from it.
Yep - it was a lot. I'm just glad I did not have to pay the amount they originally asked for.
Thanks for posting this. I have endlessly warned writers here about plagiarizing photos, but they think that because the team doesn't penalize them, it's OK to do. The only reason the team does not penalize hubs for doing this is that they simply do not have the manpower to check each photo.
I have seen some very successful writers here steal photos that clearly are not theirs to use...such as photos of famous people, etc. It really irritates me when people do this, because no matter how you try to excuse it, plagiarism is stealing and cheating.
I think many do not get that this is a commercial site. We all earn money from out work, and most of us become outraged when someone steals it. Why then would it be such a surprise when a photographer who earns HIS living from his work gets upset when someone uses it without permission?
The few times I have used the photos of others, I have always asked permission and I note it on my captions and always give credit. I also make sure that the person giving permission is the person who is legally able to do so! Sometimes they don't even realize they aren't!
I mostly use photos from Morguefile and Pixabay because they are "safe" to use and do not demand accreditation except in very limited circumstances.
I'm sorry about what happened to you, but it serves as a good lesson to people who think that it's no big deal to use work that does not belong to them.
I'd like to add here, that the money we earn is taxable. Those who don't report HP income and think they won't get caught by the IRS had better think again!
Thanks for the response. What's interesting is that some of the organizations that hold the copyright attach bots to the photos.
I'll have to check out Morguefile. I do not think I have heard of that one before.
Morguefile isn't as good as it used to be, but all photos a public domain and do not require accreditation. They seem to have fewer photos than they used to, but it's still a good source for quality images and costs nothing.
I use public domain photos along with picmonkey.com...a free editing program...to take from them what I need, refine, make them made for pinterest, etc. If you check my site you'll see that every first photo is a made for Pinterest photo. I don't get a ton of views from Pinterest, but every little bit helps.
Yet, I took a look at one of your hubs and the first photo is attributed to Pinterest. As are several others.
If you have gone through this, as you say, you would know that you cannot cite Pinterest as a source of legal-to-use images. You have to find the originator of the photo and get permission from them.
So your post is somewhat contradictory and confusing.
Thanks for auditing my hubs. All of the pictures are mine because I hold the license OR I have permission to use per email from the license holder. The one hub you looked at to find fault hadn't yet been updated to show this status. It is now.
My post wasn't an invitation for you to audit my hubs and call me out in public.
Instead, I shared here as a way of helping people to avoid the problems I experienced. I feared posting for this very reason.
So your response missed the spirit of what I was communicating here.
I wasn't 'auditing' your hub. I was just interested in what you wrote about, as a fellow hubber. The first hub that appeared in your profile was the one about the footballer. And the reason I clicked on it was because you wrote 'Ethnicity' in the title and that intrigued me.
Obviously, I was surprised to see that the first photo was attributed to Pinterest. I wasn't 'calling you out' on it, I expressed the fact that, given what you wrote about 'grabbing a photo off Pinterest', it was contradictory (it was) and confusing.
I would suggest that, if you don't want other forum members to visit your hubs, don't post in the damn forum in the first place.
You did audit my hubs and you did come back here to respond in copious detail your findings. And yes, you did call me out on it (or at least tried to) and questioned my character: "So your post is somewhat contradictory and confusing."
If ethnicity was of interest to you on the hub, why not comment about that? You mentioned nothing about that topic in your original response.
That said, my post here was never about my hubs. Instead, it involved a personal experience outside of HP.
There's no need to curse by the way.
I looked at ONE hub. I didn't 'audit' it. Why d'you keep saying that? I looked at it. I did not respond in 'copious detail', so stop exaggerating.
Why would I comment on 'ethnicity'? The post was about images, and in particular 'grabbing them off Pinterest'. I said I clicked on that hub because the title, which included the word 'ethnicity', attracted my eye, and because it was the first on on your profile slider. I wondered what a person's ethnicity had to do with him playing football.
So then I responded directly to your original post because it was odd to see Pinterest cited as the source. If you can't see why that would be contradictory and confusing... well...
'Damn' isn't considered to be swearing in the UK. That's about as mild as it gets. Milder than "Bloody hell, this is a stupid conversation."
Edit: I notice you didn't accuse Glen of 'auditing your hubs'.
Most of us were taught not to steal at a very young age.
Can you clarify. It sounds like you are calling me a thief. If I'm wrong, apologies. But I'm going to give the benefit of the doubt. So let's hear it, given you made the comment.
That was just rude. How do you know how anyone was raised here? The man shared something that happened and you swoop in with an ugly, judgemental comment.
I hope the moderators see what you wrote.
And your reply missed the spirit of what a forum thread is.
People do seem to be missing the point. It's why a lot of us hardly ever post here because there are a few that seem to make it a point of being nasty and attacking people.
In addition, since you get paid for your hubs, HubPages is considered commercial. This is a point I see that many people misunderstand. Giving attribution to the source is not sufficient by itself. It's important to follow back to the source and check their license. Some sites do not allow using images for commercial gain.
One of your hubs has the first picture from hyperscience.com and they only allow non-commercial use. If they gave you written permission overriding their stated license, then save that for your records.
Their license states:
"1.1 License. Subject to these Terms, Company grants you a non-transferable, non-exclusive, revocable, limited license to use and access the Site solely for your own personal, noncommercial use."
Thanks and yep, Hyperscience did give me written permission to use on Hubpages and I have the email that states this for my records. It also states photo caption.
I have found if you write the organization and explain to them what you will be using it for, they are often open to allowing you to use.
The ones that are not include Getty, Masterfile and some of the other biggies.
If I don't hold the license personally, I have obtained written permission. If I could not get written permission, I've replaced the photo with something else.
This is why I wrote this here - so that people know how to protect themselves.
FYI: I already had their license material so not sure why you are quoting here?
Great! Sounds like you got your act together. Unfortunately it took getting hit with an expensive penalty for you to learn about this, but it's great that you're sharing your experience to help other Hubbers.
I added the quote of their license to help others understand what this is all about, since many people don't grasp the concept of non-commercial.
I also once contacted a site asking for permission to use one of their images commercially. They granted permission and asked to see my hub when published. As you mentioned, it's really very easy to protect ourselves in this way. All it takes is just a little due diligence.
Thanks to your starting this thread, I am sure it will be helpful to others who read it.
That is why I used and still am using my own photos when writing. Thanks for the heads up anyway.
Thanks for sharing! Can't believe you had to pay so much money. That seems outrageous, but that was nice of you to give others a heads up.
Thank you for sharing that, aerospace fan. Much appreciate knowiing what can happen.
I am so glad you posted this! I have used pictures before that I wasn't sure if I had a right to or not, I have since gained the rights or gone with public domain pictures. I am sure glad I did.
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