As many of you know, Hoosier Ink's new blog master has been busy updating the site and educating contributors on the most effective way to post entries. In that same spirit, I'm doing an extra blog post this month to educate contributors on the use of photographs in their posts. But others can benefit from the information, too.
Copyright law treats visual art the same way it treats the written word, and the copyright exists as soon as the image is recorded in tangible form. For photographs, that means the instant the picture is taken.
Just because an image is available on the Internet doesn't mean you have the right to use it any way you want. Copying it for your personal use, such as to give you an idea of what a character looks like, is okay, but if you disseminate the picture publicly, you have probably violated someone's copyright.
So what can you do if you want a picture to go with your blog post? Here are some suggestions.
- Use a photo you took yourself. If you don't have anything on hand, be creative and "pose" a shot to fit the post. (Just don't pose it to duplicate someone else's photo.)
- Get permission. This is easy if the photo was taken by a friend or relative, but harder if you don't know the photographer.
- Find a reputable clip art or stock photo site that offers free images. (But royalty-free does not mean free.) Read the license/permission language on the site to make sure your use fits.
- Pay a license fee. You probably don't want to do this just for a Hoosier Ink post. But if you already have a multiple-use or royalty-free license that allows you to use the picture on blogs you write for, it's an option.
- Use photographs that are in the public domain. Finding out which ones are in the public domain takes more effort than most people want to put into a blog post, however. So unless you know the photograph was taken before 1923, this may not be an efficient choice.
If not, copyright holders will appreciate your restraint.
Kathryn Page Camp