Monday, July 12, 2010

Down go the pictures!

(This post is followed by an "Update" at end)

I am asking my loyal readers to please give me advice, suggestions, information, whatever you know about this!

I have been reading, and discovered that no, it is NOT ok to plunder the world of google for witty images to illustrate my blog with.

I thought- anyone would- that all I needed was to give credit to my source. I was so careful to do that, so very diligent. I felt so much more virtuous than the many bloggers who did not.
But I learned it’s not enough-- I need permission.

I read that almost any image online is off-limits. Even the guys who photograph book jackets!

I could be fined enormous amounts. Like $1000 an image! With such a crowd of pictures I so proudly stuffed my blog with, I could be in debt for life!

                         Alas, Benny, no more pictures!


Down go the Munsters! Down goes Marilyn.. more will she be absorbed in her book on my pages! Shot down, the fighter planes above London Bridge! With sorrow, my favorite leading man the tormented Prof. Severus Snape, removed with all his potions! (tho remains, legally, my desktop); Away with Michelangelo’s David and his nose!

The pictures will begin to disappear within the next few days. Pray it is in time!

After the un-picturing, I will begin en-picturing again as quickly as I can; but who can say how long that is- out of six places I wrote for permission so far, only one has replied.

Funny, when I write to them, I feel compelled to prove myself worthy, so they will think: her blog is so sweet, harmless; why not give her permission? As if that was the issue!

As long as it takes to write a blog, I think fiddling with the pictures surely takes much longer. Such a jumble of information on copyright I must untangle, just to begin. Then tracking down the original source for each picture- often fruitlessly- a job in itself. And the waiting!

I read that Getty Images, sales source of wonderful online images, is under investigation for allegedly seeking out only small businesses, non-profits and charities -purposely- for their illegal use of Getty images. “Purposely” that is, targeting only those most easily forced into paying the fines- not financially able to fight Getty in court.

Proof enough that there might be companies out there looking precisely for Little Me and her Little Blog.

This is a "glaring omission" in my angle here. A very important reason for getting permission is, of course, the reason it's illegal in the first place! It's unfair to the artists that they not get recognition (and in some cases payment) for their work. In fact some of the people who answered my request for permission were surprised and grateful. Maybe people seldom bother to ask them.

For this reason, the very first people I wrote to for permission were the little guys who'd done some of the artwork I'd used, before I wrote to any of the big guys like Getty.

A question: is it legal for me to take a still photograph from a youtube video, and put it in my blog? Is it legally “my own” image? Logic tells me yes; but then, law is not about logic.

doodle: Austin Kleon's website link


I have since recovered from my great fear of being carted off to prison, and put up all the pictures again. I found that a lot of modern stuff for free, such as "clip art," tends to be rather inferior.

I look for very old stuff like Gutenberg and images from before the copyright laws, which tends to be quite decorative.

My new policy towards current art is that I always contact "small" artists (as opposed to big and famous ones), because these are the people who really do stand to lose when people steal their art. They are always pleased to give permission, stipulating only that I include their contact information/link on my blog.

They are so pleased, in fact, that these days I no longer contact them ahead of time. I go ahead and use their work right away, and only then contact them.

Most importantly, under the picture I post a live link to their website.

I try to avoid using work from bigger artists (those who appear to make their living entirely on their art) and large companies such as the notorious Getty. When I do contact one of these larger artists, I find that they never answer.

This is my excuse to take the view that if they do not forbid me to do it, I shall do it. After all, what I am to them anyway. They can hardly find my blog objectionable, and besides, I post a live link to their work. Excuses excuses I know, but since they don't answer, what else can I do.

I continue to use work from artists so popular that people always steal from them and they surely have little interest in chasing me down, like Walt Disney and Tim Burton, who if I sent a letter wouldn't bother to read it anyway.

I continue to use book covers, although I know that somebody had to have scanned it. I just hope nobody thinks I'm important enough for them to get mad about it. If the book cover is also a piece of art, such as the 'A to Z' cover in the post 'Please Use This Word,' or a self-published book, I try to contact the artist.

If any of you have any thoughts or suggestions about this, please let me know!


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