An ‘interesting’ thing happened with my blog while I was away on vacation. I feel I must share it with you so you don’t have to deal with the same thing when you least expect it.
A man from a country on the other side of the world contacted me to ask where I ‘found’ the photo I had used on a blog post three years ago. He said he found it interesting that I had used that photo and that the credits at the bottom of the photo had been blurred so they were not readable. He continued to say the photo was the work of one of the photographers in the firm that employed him. Before I replied I did some research and found that, indeed, he represented a reputable photography firm in another country and that this did not appear to be spam or an attempt to ‘trick’ me in any way.
I replied in my most gracious manner to say that I did not recall exactly where I had found the photo since it had been such a long time ago but I assured him I did not blur the credit and that I always give credit to those whose work I use when I use other than my own. I told him that, as an amateur photographer, I do not appreciate it if someone uses my photography without permission, nor would I be happy if I were not given credit for the photo. I explained that when I do use photography other than my own I always give credit and I use it from free sites – I never use copyrighted photos unless I have been given permission from the owner and have made arrangements to use it.
He followed with this reply: “I completely understand. I do have to protect our photographer’s images though, so I would ask that either you remove the image or pay for its use. The rate is currently $50 for 2 years website use. If you choose to pay, the easiest way to do that is through [link attached]. I hope you will understand our position. Many thanks.”
I responded to tell him that I was not going to pay for use of the photo and that I had removed it from my blog. I mentioned that I planned to write a blog post about the situation to share with my friends and readers a caution about sources that some of us, in our innocence, may consider safe and legal. I assured him that the only reason I used the photo in question was for the impact it added to my words.
His final response was: “No problem. If you do mention this in your blog, it would be worth pointing out that many of the Image Libraries (particularly some of the larger ones), would not bother to ask whether you wish to pay for the image. They would just have sent you an invoice and a letter from their legal department. We try to be a little more flexible here, but you may not have been so lucky had the image originated elsewhere. Google images is full of Rights Managed images because that’s often the best way to bring them to the buyer. It is therefore very risky to make use of images without prior knowledge of their origin, no matter where you find them. I hope that makes sense.”
I chose not to respond again. Case closed. Lesson learned.
You can view the blog in question and read the comments I added here. The bottom line, I’m afraid, is that you cannot trust anyone but yourself! You cannot trust sources or credits that are not yours. From this time on I will ONLY use photography that is mine! If, for some reason, I want to refer to a photo that one of you have shared that has given me inspiration I will continue to do what I have done in the past – I will contact you and ask permission to use it. And I will give credit where credit is due!