I try to keep things on the light side around here. Certainly not because there isn't sadness or hard things in my life, but because this is the place where I come to be reminded of the joy. And so I apologize today if you've come here looking for a bit of joy, because I need to talk openly here about something that's not so joyful.
I'm angry, and I'm frustrated. I've just discovered that yet again, someone has taken an image from my blog without my permission and used it on their website. I don't know if you realize how often this happens. A lot. And I know I'm not the only one, but I think we usually deal with it quietly. I'm sorry, but I'm feeling a little loud today. I need to come right out and say this, just so we're all clear:
when you take an image from another website, and use it in any way of your own without permission, you are, in effect, stealing. It doesn't matter if it's a photo of their child, their scarf or their art. It doesn't matter if your intent is sexual in nature, or if you love someones work and want to glow about it. It doesn't matter if you're posting it on your own personal blog, a commercial blog, or if you're a contributor on a group blog. When you take someones image or content without their permission, you are stealing.
Besides being the law (yes, it really is), it just makes sense. If you'd like to use something of someone's, please, just ask. Sending an email to ask permission might take you a little longer to write your post, but you need to do it. What you find out there is not free for your taking.
Bringing this back around to the joy (there's always a little bit), it occured to me that the stolen photos and/or content are almost always discovered by blog readers. I'm always SO grateful when someone informs me they've found a photo of mine somewhere it shouldn't be. Because at the same time as feeling angry at the violation, I also feel so cared for, and watched out for by my fellow bloggers and blog readers. And so it occured to me that we should take that and step it up a level. Doesn't everyone always talk about this 'community' of bloggers? Well, this community needs neighborhood watch program. Seriously. I know that we can never make images 100% secure online, but don't you think if we're looking out for each other, surely that can cut down on at least some of this happening within our own 'community'? If you see an image somewhere you think it shouldn't be, speak up. And I'll do the same for you. Are you with me?
In the interest of sharing information -the first step in any change - here are a few links that I think are valuable in this discussion of preventing image theft:
US Copyright Office - the basics
Creative Commons on Flickr
Preventing Image Theft which gives great tips on disabling the context (ie 'right click') menu - IF you code your own site. I can't find a good solution for this with Typepad. Anyone else?
Michelle's tutorial for Watermarking in Photoshop
Whenever this comes up, I go through a range of emotions, and always in there is the thought that I just shouldn't do this at all - particularly posting photos of our children, as my heart just breaks when I discover them somewhere they shouldn't be. In the end, the joy that we get and give from doing this always wins out for me personally - at least for now. But I so completely understand that for others, it's just too much to bear. Protecting my family and the work I do on this blog is so important to me, which is why I needed to talk to you about this. Thank you for listening.
PS. (added later) Man, I need some self-editing. I'm so sorry to have been harsh to those of you who sincerely did not know that it isn't okay to take images this way. My anger comes from the misuse of photos of my children, which I'm sure you can understand to be intense.