Adventures in Copyright by OpenSourceWayOne of the biggest perils of creating content as a freelancer is copyright infringement. Yes, we also stress about plagiarism and outstanding invoices that go ignored. Yet the fear of your work appearing in someone else’s oeuvre without permission is very real.

Coming from the world of book and magazine publishing, I completely understand and respect the importance of permissions in the world of publication and performance. And blogging, albeit fast-paced and capricious, is no different.

Here on The Lambent Letter, I make an effort to only use images offered through Creative Commons licenses. Without the amazingly talented photographers and artists using Attribution, Attribution-No Derivatives, and Attribution-Share Alike licenses, my blog would be a lot more dull and unappealing.

But what about new bloggers who don’t know how to approach attribution? How do you find images that complement your blog and carry a CC license? How do you display credit? Do you contact the artist and let them know their work is now a part of your creation too?

Well, there are many ways to approach copyright on your blog. And the former associate editor in me says, “Keep it simple, but make it your own.”

Here’s a peak at my process, but feel free to adapt your own.

  1. Write a compelling blog post that will leave your readers eager to return for more.
  2. Proofread your post and search for words or phrases that might spark an imaginative image. Remember, the images don’t always have to reflect the headline, just the subject and tone.
  3. With list of words in tow, fire up or download the PhotoDropper plugin in your blog’s backend.
  4. Search for the words on your list and choose an image or images that complement your post.

Now, that part is straight-forward and doesn’t involve much variation. But once you find your photo(s), you can display credit in four different ways.

Option 1:

  1. Click on the image within PhotoDropper’s plugin gallery, click “Insert Into Post” and the plugin will place the image in your post and affix an automated credit to the artist, either underneath or near the image.
  2. Format the image and text surrounding the photo.

Option 2:

  1. Click through to the image’s Flickr page.
  2. Click on “Actions” in the upper left side of the photo, then choose “View all sizes” from the drop-down menu. Download the image to your computer, noting the name of the file and Flickr account owner’s name.
  3. Upload the image from your computer into the blog post directly, adding it to your host site’s storage.
  4. Format the image to your liking (borders, spacing, captions, etc.).
  5. Add the photo credit directly underneath the image.

Option 3:

  1. Repeat steps 1 through 4 under Option 2
  2. Add the photo credit(s) at the bottom of your post before the comments section.

Option 4:

  1. Repeat steps 1 through 4 under Option 2
  2. In the image’s HTML code, add “Photo Credit: Photographer or Photo Owner’s Name” to the TITLE section (title=” “), as well as the web address to the original Flickr page so the reader may follow the link to the photo’s source (href=” “).
  3. Also, in the image’s code, add the artist and photo’s name to the ALT section (alt=” “) so readers with slower Internet connections, who may have trouble loading the photos, will know what image is intended to display in that space.

It may seem a bit involved, but I prefer Option 4. I think it leaves your layout looking clean and polished, especially if you use multiple images in your posts. I also believe a link to the original source conveys a sense of quid pro quo or a gracious “Thank You” to the artist directly.

Once the post is published, I leave a message on the owner’s Flickr page, stating who am I, how I used their photo and a link to where they can find it on my blog. That way, if it’s a No Derivatives license, the owner can see I didn’t alter the photo in any way and see how their work is being used around the net.

How to Find the Original Source of an Image on PinterestAgain, my approach isn’t for everyone. Plenty of bloggers keep it much simpler: Add a photo, tweak the layout, place credit at bottom of the post, and Ta-Da! No muss, no fuss.

I adapted the attribution process to suit my style, and you’re welcome to do the same. What matters most is that we acknowledge when the work is not our own, even if the image comes from Pinterest. Karen, from The Graphics Fairy blog, wrote a helpful piece on how to find the source of a Pinterest image when the owner is not provided.

In the end, we’re all content creators who love to share our work, but not without appreciation or our permission. The karmic approach of attributing others’ work to their sources fosters a stronger sense of community in the stressful world of the creative professional. So make sure you pay it forward and give credit where credit is due.

How do you approach copyright issues on your blog?
What sources do you use for free or inexpensive blog photos?