Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Image Credits and Watermarks

In my best motherly voice:

Gather 'round, children. Let me give you a lesson on blogging.

The first thing to know about blogging is this: always, always watermark your photos.

Second and probably most important, if you use a picture from another source, you MUST give credit.  Or eventually someone will flood you with nastygrams, threaten you with bloodsucking lawyers, and complain about you to all of their friends.

Case in point:  See this cheery Valentine?  I posted it back in 2009.  That was back when my blog was even smaller than it is now and I never thought about watermarking my photos.  (For the sake of today's post, I dug up the photo and added the watermark.)

Fast forward to today.  A national retail craft chain included my card in this inspiration board.  You likey these Valentines?  We carry supplies for you to make your own!  Buy now!  Nevermind that the inspiration board is a bit of a hack job, the problem is that the retailer removed the artists' watermarks, altered the photos, and failed to compensate, credit, or even notify the artists.  In my case, my photo didn't have a watermark, but someone did lift it from my blog.  (The bright red lines were added by the lady who sent this screenshot.)

Yes, I know people post other people's pictures on their blogs all the time.  But for a retailer - who has a marketing department, social media staff, and a legal advisor - to post someone else's photos is a different situation in my book.  Retailers should know better.

Craft stores publish project ideas all the time.  The difference is this: projects created for publication are created by designers who receive compensation for their work.

Of course I like sharing my work; that's why I blog.  But if people use my idea - either to re-post the original work or use it as inspiration for a different project - I always appreciate receiving credit, especially with a link back to the original post.  I try to do the same for others.

If I'm being honest, I'm more flattered than offended.  I don't blog to make money.  I like sharing ideas and borrowing ideas that others have shared.  The fact that someone noticed my card and liked it enough to think they could make money with it makes me smile.  What's even more amusing is that they used my lousy picture.

Finally, I'm most amazed at the people who hunted me down and told me about my card.  Either I have more loyal blog followers than I thought or your sleuthing skills are amazing.  Either way, thank you!  Though I don't care to take action beyond this post on my blog, I appreciate others looking out for my interests.

So, consider today's lessons learned.  1) Watermark your photos.  2) Give credit where credit is due.

Should I end with an amen?

ETA - the retailer has apologized and removed the image.

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