Copyright, Infringement, Authors and those “Man Candy” Posts…

A couple of years ago there was a romance author who got unlucky. She did what So Many authors do, and posted a picture of a hot guy on her blog.

The difference was that this time the photographer saw it, got upset, and sued.

For many thousands of dollars.

Personally, I think the photographer went totally overboard. But it sure made a point!

In the past I honestly didn’t think too much about copyright and all of that when it came to images, but now I’m selling my own images, and now that my pictures are across thousands of Pinterest boards, it’s a real concern to me.

The biggest problem these days is proving you own the things! On Pinterest, for example, the pictures link back to the source. However, it is really easy to change the source. Lots of dodgy businesses are on Pinterest, and they constantly change the source so it links back to their own website instead of my photography blog.

I had two problems like this a few days ago.

Website administrators are trying to tell me this isn’t my picture. It bloody well is! I took it in December 2000, and it has been on my personal Facebook account for about eight years:

216992_6670231341_7790_n - Copy

The other time,  I was messing around, making something of a pretty crappy photo I took at Warwick Castle in England in December of 2004. It turned into this:

Warwick Castle Warwickshire England Britain Sonya Heaney December 2004

And I received copyright infringement warnings from the place I put the sketch up for sale (on freaking magnets and postcards etc. – it’s not good enough for anything bigger!), and then my image was removed.

I put it back, and they removed it again. It’s mine and only mine, and I’m really mad I wasn’t even asked for proof of ownership before they decided it wasn’t mine.

By the way, here is the original crappy picture. It’s really bad, and was taken on an old camera with a roll of film in it!:

Warwick Castle Warwickshire England Britain Sonya Heaney December 2004

I do have a very, very big problem with the true ownership of an image disappearing, but I also have a VERY big problem with other people trying to claim my images as their own!

On the same site, for example, there are a thousand Jane Austen fans selling merchandise with copyrighted images they’ve stolen, particularly copyrighted images of Chatsworth House (which is totally stupid, because Chatsworth IS NOT Mr Darcy’s house – Austen mentions it separately in Pride and Prejudice!). For example.

There are a whole lot of popular pictures on the internet where the ownership has all but disappeared. I’m forever using Google Image Search to try and track down the true owner. Not only is the picture’s owner deleted, but often pictures are credited as the wrong country or person. I’ve seen an Australian dancer labelled a Soviet dancer. I’ve seen Ukraine labelled as Russia. I’ve seen my hometown labelled as somewhere in the United States. I’ve seen images that are apparently of the Chornobyl (Chernobyl) nuclear disaster ruins in Ukraine that are actually pictures of North Carolina!

I don’t think many authors know or care about stealing images, but they sure do care if someone plagiarises their books!

On this blog, almost every image is my own (apart from book covers, which you CAN use), including the occasional screenshot I use. I also occasionally post a thumbnail image from royalty-free Wikimedia Commons, or a picture that’s so old there’s no longer copyright attached to it.

I wish more authors cared about this. Because all those “Man Candy” weekly posts you’re doing? Even if you type the photographer’s name underneath them, it’s still a violation of copyright unless you have express permission from the photographer.

And, as it turns out, you actually might be sued.

You don’t want your books stolen. So don’t steal other people’s artistic work!

It’s flattering if you save someone’s picture to your computer for private use. It’s not so flattering when you start selling it as your own.