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"A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words? How About a Thousand Dollars?" Community Guidelines Re-Visited

Real Estate Agent with Fathom Realty West Sound WA State 52404

It's time once again for another installment of "Guess That Guideline!" and I'm your host, Community Builder and Moving Target, Rich Jacobson.

Sunset on Hood Cannal in Washington State

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.

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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.

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Rich Jacobson is a REALTOR® and licensed Broker with Fathom Realty. He's a Crab Hunter, Clam Digger, and Oyster Shucker, skilffuly vanquishing anything in a shell! He is the Social Media Evangelist for Life on the Kitsap Peninsula & The Western Puget Sound in scenic WA State.

Jeremy Blanton
Myrtle Beach Homes Blog - Myrtle Beach, SC
Myrtle Beach REALTOR®- myrtlebeachhomesblog.com

Virginia...I am a member of "jacked" and I follow the rules....


Jun 09, 2008 07:50 AM
Lisa Ryan
Callaway Henderson Sotheby's International Realty - Montgomery, NJ
Selling Princeton,West Windsor and Montgomery Town

Am I hearing correctly that we can no longer use Imagechef.com on our blogs either?

Jun 09, 2008 02:11 PM
"The Lovely Wife" The One And Only TLW.
President-Tutas Towne Realty, Inc. - Kissimmee, FL

Gracious Rich...

I stopped by to bump your pretty post :)


Jun 13, 2008 12:59 PM
Randy L. Prothero
eXp Realty - Hollister, MO
Missouri REALTOR, (808) 384-5645

One thing for sure, I feel sorry for anyone who takes one of Lenn's maps.

Jun 14, 2008 06:42 PM
John Slocum
Premiere Property Group, LLC - Vancouver Washington - Vancouver, WA
Broker, SFR - Vancouver WA Real Estate

Thanks for the reminder Rich.  We both have digital cameras and keep working on improving the quality of our images.  We appreciate the efforts the professional photographer makes to produce their art, and hope they appreciate our efforts as real estate professionals.

Kathryn & John

Jun 20, 2008 02:11 AM
Brian Schulman
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA - Lancaster, PA
Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552

I've been trying to use almost exclusively my own photos because of this issue.

Jul 02, 2008 07:28 AM
Not a real person
San Diego, CA

Dreamstime (dreamstime.com) has both free photos and fee-paid photos. With the fee-paid photos, they have commercial uses. They are very reasonable, especially the commercial use fees and restrictions.

Jul 30, 2008 03:56 AM
Pat Haddad, ABR, CRS, ePRO, GRI
Keller Williams Indianapolis Metro NE - Carmel, IN
Carmel, Fishers, Westfield IN Real Estate Expert

Well, I sat here and read all 73 posts.  I totally get the copyright issues and that some free photos are not free at all.  I appreciate the recommendations on where to go to get photos.  I did not read in any of these posts where to put the pictures so that they have a URL and can then be added to a post.  It would be great if someone could write a step by step guide on adding pictures.  I typed pictures into the search box and this was the first post I read.  Perhaps I will find this step by step guide somewhere on AR.  Thanks to all who have shared.

Aug 09, 2008 10:30 AM
Not a real person
San Diego, CA

Hey, Pat.

Inserting a picture is quite easy. Look at the menu bar of your comment box. There at the far right you'll see a very small tree; it's the third icon from the right. Hold your mouse over that and it should read "Insert/edit image." Click on that and you'll be able to enter the URL of the picture you want to use. Make sure you give the picture an "Image description" and a "Title." Then click on the "Appearance" tab and size your picture. I use 325 x 250 as my standard for landscape-oriented pictures. So here's what my picture would look like:

 Rancho Santa Fe house

The URL is http://www.russel-ray.com/files/house-rancho-santa-fe.jpg

The image description and title both are "Rancho Santa Fe house"

The size is 325 x 250.

It's that easy.

Best wishes. Good luck. Have fun. Don't get caught out of the Rain. Just in case you didn't subscribe to new comment notification, I'm sending you Rich's blog link in an email.

Aug 09, 2008 08:46 PM
Pat Haddad, ABR, CRS, ePRO, GRI
Keller Williams Indianapolis Metro NE - Carmel, IN
Carmel, Fishers, Westfield IN Real Estate Expert

Thanks for the response Russel!  Does this work for both pictures I have taken myself and picutres I purchase to use on my blog?  Guess what I am asking is how do you get the URLs for the pictures you take yourself?

Aug 10, 2008 03:25 AM
Virginia Hepp - Mesquite NV REALTOR
Desert Gold Realty - Mesquite NV Homes For Sale - Mesquite, NV
Mesquite NV Homes and Neighborhoods - Search MLS

Pat - if you have images stored on a host website, you can copy and paste the url into the image box that comes down.

I don't have that.  I store images (photos, logos,etc) on my computer.

When you place your cursor in your post, then click on the tree to insert an image, the box comes down.  Right next to the url box, on the right, is a browse button.  Click on that and browse your computer to find the image you want, click on it and upload it - it goes to AR.

I see that you already have images on your blog posts?  Am I answering the right question?

Feel free to call me - I am home all day.

Aug 10, 2008 04:55 AM
Pat Haddad, ABR, CRS, ePRO, GRI
Keller Williams Indianapolis Metro NE - Carmel, IN
Carmel, Fishers, Westfield IN Real Estate Expert

Virginia - It was so kind of you to answer my question---and you did answer it.  The pictures I have already posted to my blogs came from my websites or virtual tours so they already had URLs.  I did not know if I could pull pictures off my computer and add them, but looks like I can!  Thanks again!

Aug 10, 2008 12:31 PM
Mark Watterson
Salt Lake City, UT
Utah Real Estate

Thank you for the information.  I'm curious about Lenn question on Realty Times.  I have their service and see it published in the rain.  I don't do it and don't don't plan on it.  Would like to know?

Feb 08, 2009 10:26 PM
Ann Hayden 636-399-7544
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties-St. Louis Missouri 314-775-2050 - Des Peres, MO


This is an excellent post.  Thank you for sharing.  I have drawings and photographs I would not want anyone to copy/steal.

Ann Hayden in lovely Wildwood, Missouri

Feb 09, 2009 01:00 AM
Cindy Marty
Keller and Associates - Culver City, CA


Nice post.

What about if you have a professional photographer take a picture of a home.

Do you need permission of the homeowner to use on your web site?

What about if the picture is taken from a public space, for example a park,

and has 5 or 6 homes.  Do you need permission of the homeowners?



Mar 28, 2009 05:13 PM
Patricia Aulson
Realtor - Portsmouth NH Homes-Hampton NH Homes

Gee wiz....there's always something to be concerned about.

Portsmouth NH Real Estate

Apr 07, 2009 01:20 AM
Patricia Aulson
Realtor - Portsmouth NH Homes-Hampton NH Homes

Gee wiz....there's always something to be concerned about.

Portsmouth NH Real Estate

Apr 07, 2009 01:20 AM
real estate real estate
Providence, RI

A great reminder. I bookmarked this and will send this post to some of my friends.

Apr 07, 2009 02:10 PM
Stephanie Frost
Home Team Realty - Ocala, FL

Another good reason to start taking more of my own photos.........

Oct 22, 2009 03:55 AM
Dennis Chamberlain
Eastern WA Home Inspections, LLC - Moses Lake, WA
Eastern WA Home Inspections

Just was reviewing what I could do with a photo I found. Do not think I'll use it just in case. Thank you for the warnings. I'll get my camera out.

Apr 28, 2010 04:24 AM