Deb Maxwell has written an exceptional post on AR Community Guidelines regarding copyright. As a former stock photo agency owner the unauthorized use of copyrighted material of any type is an issue that really makes me angry and the unauthorized use of photographic images is particularly close to my heart.
The photographers we represented worked very hard to create high quality images that spoke to a large potential audience of designers, advertisers and corporate communicators. Creating high quality photographic images takes time, effort, skill and money. The unvarnished truth is --those who use these images without paying for them are stealing from those who created them.
If you don't take good photos, BUY them!
Copyright infringement is no laughing matter. In fact, it's very serious and snagging others' photos can cost you FAR more than you can imagine. As per AR Community Guidelines and highlighting an article that Rich Jacobson wrote years ago, let's focus on this particular guideline that continues to be an issue in the Rain (and elsewhere):
This applies to all photos online, those taken by a member, peer OR a PAID photo taken by a photographer on behalf of a member or peer.
Agents snatch photos that they see and just snag them - posting someone else's photos on their own blogs, websites and social media. Unless you have permission, that photo is NOT yours to use...ANYWHERE!
There have been some very good articles written on this topic all across ActiveRain. However, for some, they think that they will not be 'found' and continue to use others' photos without a second thought.
I have sent Cease and Desist letters and received a response, "Well, I just took it from Google!" Umm...NO, that is unacceptable! Take your own photos or purchase them and you'll never be the recipient of one of those letters, or worse yet, following that Cease and Desist letter, you will be paying a HEFTY fine if the content isn't immediately removed.
Several years ago, I was alerted that one of my photos was being used on someone else's site. Ultimately, the agent had copied MY ENTIRE SITE - including use of the CRS logo (she was not a CRS). I was in shock! When called about it, the agent exclaimed, "I don't know why you're upset about it - it's a COMPLIMENT to you!"
*NOTE: If you claim to be a designee of CRS or any other PAID membership designation (once you receive your designation, you have to pay annual fees in order to keep that designation), you can also be penalized - especially if you inappropriately utilize the logo. Members have membership rosters for all designations and if you're not a designee, DON'T CLAIM TO BE ONE OR USE THEIR LOGO. (Even if you were a designee in the past.) This is a topic for a whole other blog!
I shared the analogy of this agent writing a manuscript and leaving it on her desk; I take that manuscript, publish it and claim it as mine. That had absolutely no impact on her! It wasn't until I told her that I would be suing her and she would be hearing from my attorney in 24 hours, that she realized I meant business.
*WARNING: You may easily miss hidden copyright information in a graphic that you snag. I know an agent a couple of years ago who paid a hefty fine (tens of thousands of dollars) for snagging an 'innocent' photo; the owner of the photo levied a fairly substantial fine on her. He had a copyright hidden in the graphic and every time someone stole it, he sued - there was no Cease and Desist letter sent - he sued immediately!
Think of the time you would save by simply using your own photos or hiring someone to take your photos for you...OR BUY THEM!
Everyone doesn't take good photos - if you know you don't, just BUY them and save yourself a much heftier fine than simply paying for your own! Lisa Hernandez wrote a great post about free sites last month also - you do have to remember to give credit when you use those free sites though...there are often hidden guidelines about giving credit so, be careful!
Thank you again, Lynn B. Friedman for hosting the 2017 jump-start contest!
© Debe Maxwell | The Maxwell House Group | CharlotteBroker@icloud.com | If You Don't Take Good Photos, BUY THEM!