It's time once again for another installment of "Guess That Guideline!" and I'm your host, Community Builder and Moving Target, Rich Jacobson.
We've been re-hashing the ActiveRain Community Guidelines, and dissecting them at length. So many times, when we join social networks or online forums, we're required to review the Terms of Service (TOS) or Guidelines. But seriously, how many people take the time to actually READ them? Not many, I'm sure. That's why we're doing this review - so we're all on the same page and know exactly what's expected of us as members of the ActiveRain Community.
As you familiarize yourself with the Community Guidelines, remember, these aren't just a bunch of rules to restrict your involvement here, but to protect you, and to ensure you the best possible experience in the Rain.
~ o ~ o ~ o ~ o ~
This week's guideline is extremely important, and will help to keep your hard-earmed money where it belongs and your butt out of court. It reads as follows:
Respect copyrights. Only upload content/images that you have the right to use (what you have paid for or own), and whose copyright rules allow for commercial use.
It's a well known fact that a blog post with pictures/images attracts more readers. Let's face it, people like pictures. So perhaps in our initial newbie haste, we take certain liberties with the images that we use. We 'assume' that if a particular image is already on the Internet, that it's 'public domain,' and thus, fair game. We just 'clip & paste' and we're happy as clams, right?
Trust me, when I say that this is an issue that is only going to gain greater scrutiny and enforcement in the days ahead. Owners of copyrighted images, and their legal staff, are becoming increasingly more agressive in their pursuit of copyright infringements. They're literally lying in wait, hoping for the next unsuspecting 'deep pocket' to steal/lift one of their images. That's not to say that they don't have every right to enforce their copyrights. They absolutely do. But don't look for them to allow any infringements to go by with simply a friendly warning.
As in my previous installment, I sought out the input of one who is perhaps one of the foremost authorities on copyright issues, our own Lenn Harley. When asked her thoughts regarding this particular guideline, she responded:
"The statement "what you have paid for or own" is a problem because there are many web sites that sell images for personal use but not for commercial use. There are also many that give or sell permission to print but not to use commercially. What I've noticed is that ActiveRain members often read the main page of a web site that says "FREE" and assume that means that they can use them as they wish. They do not read the web site's copyright policies which usually typically clearly deny use to republish. Then, worse, they write a post recommending the web site and "free" stuff, and their readers then proceed to use the same web site and the beat goes on."
(For further, more in-depth information from Lenn on image copyrights, GO HERE.)
As you travel across the greater blogosphere, you will note that many of the more proficient and successful bloggers utilize their own images. The concerns of violating copyright laws are virtually non-existent when using images you yourself have shot/developed. Unless, of course, someone happens to swipe one of YOUR images!
And, whatever you do, don't EVER copy one of Lenn's maps. Talk about a death wish!
P.S. If any of you know a good source for 'free' commercial-use images, or an inexpensive 'paid subscription' provider of images, feel free to provide a link within the 'Comments' section.