Last month, we talked about reblogging and you all had a spirited debate in the comments section about the etiquette of sharing other people’s content. I thought the discussion was very interesting–my main takeaway was that some bloggers are quite particular about where and how their content is shared, and we should all be respectful of that.
This made me think of another issue that comes up a lot on the blogosphere – using other people’s photos. It’s difficult to know when it’s okay to use someone else’s photo on your blog, since every blogger feels differently about it.
Personally, I’m perfectly happy for anybody to post any of my photos anywhere, but I appreciate a credit. Some bloggers don’t want their photos shared at all by anybody, regardless of attribution. Most bloggers are probably somewhere in between.
So how do you know how the owner of the picture you have your eye on feels about you using it?
Well, the simplest and most certain way is to ask! You can contact the blogger through their contact form, or by leaving a comment on their post, and ask if it’s okay if you share their photo on your site with proper attribution (a photo credit naming them that links back to the post or page on their site where their photo originally appeared). Make sure to include a link to your site, so that the blogger can check it out and see if they’re okay with their photo appearing there.
Many bloggers include information in their sidebar or footer about how they would or would not like their content and images to be shared. Doing this is very helpful, and you might consider putting such a notice on your own blog, too.
What if you just need a stock photo and you don’t really want to bother approaching anyone about it, or you don’t have time to wait for someone to get back to you? In that case, Flickr is your friend. If you choose the ‘advanced search’ option in Flickr, you’ll see an option to search only within Creative Commons-licensed content:
Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization established to help people control how their content is shared on the internet. For example, say you don’t mind if individuals share your work on their blogs, but you don’t want any companies to use it in their advertising. Creative Commons gives you a way to assert this.
Flickr lets you add a Creative Commons license to your photostream. You can also search only within the images of Flickr users who have done this, which lets you know that these users don’t mind their images being shared with proper attribution.
There are of course other places on the web to find free open license photographs, but Flickr is the easiest to use with the most interesting variety, in my opinion (in fact, that’s how I found the camera image above). For more information about this, check out Krista’s previous Daily Post column on how to find and use images with the Creative Commons license. If you have another site you like to use for images, let us know in the comments!
If you definitely don’t want anyone to share your photos, here are some measures you can take on WordPress.com:
- Obtain a Creative Commons license, as discussed above.
- Put a clear copyright notice in the sidebar of your blog. You can use the Text widget to do this. We have some sample text you can use here.
- Add watermarks to your images, using your image editing software.
Remember, though, that the more other people share your images and link back to your site, the more new readers are able to find you! If you guard your content too closely, you’ll have a tougher time building your traffic.
How do you feel about other bloggers reposting your photos? Are you flattered or would you rather they not?