Usually at this time of the week I’d be busy tapping away on my keyboard, writing an Inspirations article about something that I love. But today I keep coming up against a little problem – copyright law.
I was planning to write something about some of my cult TV favourites, and wanted to illustrate them with a photo – nothing dramatic, just a publicity image that the studio has released for use in the media. But despite my frantic Googling, I’m struggling to come up with anything. In fact, I’ve noticed that images for the shows I’m searching for seem to be rapidly dwindling. Where a few years ago there were a plethora of pictures available, now there are far fewer.
And that’s where copyright law comes in.
A lot of people don’t seem to realise that copyright is a problem when it comes to sharing images. They think that if something’s on the internet, it’s free to use. But that just isn’t true. Even if you have good intentions, sharing an image you love with your followers or online community, you can be asking for trouble. Whether it’s a snotty email, or the threat of a lawsuit, there can be consequences to re-using a photo without the proper permissions.
Often, it’s enough to email the owner of the photograph for their permission, plus including a credit and link back to their website is always good etiquette. Unfortunately for me, the faceless corporations of Hollywood own the photos I would like to share, and finding an email address would be hard enough, never mind waiting for a response.
All this is useful information when e-publishing a novel. It can be tempting to choose an image from the internet and use it to create that stunning cover that will perfectly market your book. But it’s best to play it safe, especially when you’re planning (hoping!) to make money.
I’m planning to take (or having someone who’s half decent with a camera take) the image for my book cover, so that copyright isn’t an issue. As an alternative, websites like iStock give you permissions to use their images for novel covers, but you do have to pay.
When it comes to blogging, a lot of people are happy to share their work, as long as you give them proper credit. It’s worth asking anyway!
This cute poster is a really helpful guide for anyone who takes copyright seriously but needs a bit of help deciding which images to share.
Image credit: Pia Jane Bijkerk