Thoughtful – Image Copyrights

Posted April 23, 2015 by Emily in Blogging / 3 Comments


No one likes to be robbed. And yet there are people out there that like to rob others. People put a lot of effort into their creations and no one deserves to have their content stolen (okay, maybe, if you steal other people’s content, you do deserve to have yours stolen). A lot of bloggers have talked about plagiarism and I was going to but then I realized this post would be way too long. Instead, I want to focus on image copyrights.

Story Time

This is just me rambling and ranting, so feel free to skip to the next section. I’ve been getting really into Instagram lately. I invest a lot of time and effort into the photographs I take. Now granted they aren’t the best bookstagram pics on Instagram, not even by a long shot, but I am still somewhat proud of them, nonetheless. So imagine how I feel after I discovered two instances where my pictures have been screenshotted in the spam of three days. Now granted, I do receive some sort of credit in both of them. I’m tagged on the one reposted on Instagram, but not given credit in the caption, which pisses me off a little. The other is on another website altogether and it has a tiny link to my picture on Instagram, but once again, no specific credit. I’m not quite sure whether to be mad and annoyed or flattered that people are using my pictures. But right now, I’m just pissed.

Imitation is not the sincerest form of flattery. Especially when it’s not even really an imitation, but an exact copy. The funny thing is, I would have been perfectly fine letting other people use my pictures if they had just asked first. Is that so hard to do? It’s not like I’m not online or anything…

I also probably wouldn’t be half as mad if I felt I had gotten proper credit for my photos. I feel like if you want to use someone else’s picture, you have to blatantly state that the pic is not your own and that it, through copyrights, belongs to someone else. It’s only fair. Urgh.

I guess I got lucky that I got some sort of credit. But it just scares me for what might happen in the future. I’ve started spending an extra five minutes adding a small watermark to my pics before I post them. I think they take something away from the photos but to me, it’s worth it to be able to prove down the road that the picture is in fact mine and belongs to me and me alone.

What is copyright?

According to the U.S. Copyright Office,

“Copyright is a form of protection grounded in the U.S. Constitution and granted by law for original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Your work is under copyright protection the moment it is created and fixed in a tangible form that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.”

That basically means, the moment you take a picture or the moment you finish a blog banner, the moment you create something, you automatically own the rights to the that creation. Of course, there are several exemptions, (when are there not?) but for the most part once you create something original it is yours under law (at least in the US).

What is fair use?

Fair use is one of the exceptions and the owner of the creation may lose her right to decide who has permission to use her creation if fair use comes into play. Fair use is how we are legally allowed to post book covers on our blogs when we review books and how you’re allowed to use pictures in school presentations. Essentially, there are four factors that have to be considered in order to determine whether the use of the creation falls under fair use protection or not. According to the U.S. Copyright Office, they are…

  1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work
  3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
  4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work

To Summarize

Under copyright law, you automatically own the copyright to your creation the moment it is created. Fair use is what allows you to legally use book covers on your blog, but does not apply if the purpose of the photo is not for educational or nonprofit use, which is one of the four factors used to decide whether an image is used under fair use or not. If you want to use an image to make a blog post prettier without the owner’s consent, that is violating someone’s copyright, even if you give appropriate credit.

NOTE: I am not extremely familiar with how copyrights work. All the information on this post is from either previous knowledge or research.

Do you have any advice for my Instagram problem?
What would you do?
Has anyone taken some of your content without permission and/or without giving proper credit?


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3 responses to “Thoughtful – Image Copyrights

  1. I don’t think that has happened to me. However, I know it’s been happening a lot to bloggers lately. I’ve been considering adding some type of watermark to my photos (not that I post a lot) that credits me. So if someone steals the photo the credit will still go along with it since it’s in the photo. I’ve seen some bloggers start to do that on Instagram. I’m so sorry this happened to you. I love your Instagram account!

  2. I think this is a really important post. I would also add that simply linking back to a source or otherwise attempting to give credit doesn’t automatically license anyone to use an image. If the original photographer or artist specifies that they will allow others to use their work as long as credit is given, that’s one thing. Otherwise, however, no one should be reposting an image without first obtaining consent.

    I have seen some people add watermarks to their images in an effort to receive the credit they deserve for their work. So that is an option, though of course you sacrifice something of the image’s aesthetic to do so. I have also heard that people have seen others modify their images to erase the watermark. This may be, in some respects, a losing battle.