Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Copyright - to use the picture or not?

I recently saw an image being used (not one of mine) on a page without the copyright holders permission - despite the page purporting to support creativity. I contacted them reminding them that it was a copyright protected image. Their response indicated that they didn't realise the implications of their actions.

This is my stance:
If a picture is posted or tweeted on social media, which says on it the creators name/web address/copyright info or similar, share it all you like.

However, if you want to use an image on your website, or as a header on a social media group or campaign or blog or anywhere else where it is fixed and linked to you/your organisation/charity/social media group, then ASK. If you want to print it, ASK.

This is important.

With email and social networking sites asking is very easy and need only take a few moments. Then you will get an answer. It may be yes, it may be no, it may be 'if you pay for it'. But you will not be taking away my livelihood.

If you ask, you are much more likely to get a yes than if I discover you are using an image without permission. In which case expect to be told to remove it - even if I would have said yes had you asked, if you cannot show me the courtesy of respecting my work, why should I give you permission to use it?

If you are planning to use it for a good cause, or as a charity, or for awareness raising, this DOES NOT give you a right to use an image without permission. Seeing as virtually all my work promotes understanding and acceptance of disability, this theory means I have no right to earn a living. My images are how I earn money to live. It is applicable to the work of thousands of charities and non-profit organisations and groups across the globe. If every good cause used my images without consent my images would be everywhere but I would a) not earn enough to feed myself and b) have to close my business.

And I apply the same principles to the work of any other artist too.

If you want to support artists, then, quite simply, ask for permission before you use an image.


  1. I think this is terribly important.

    I also think this extends to "lesser" work such as written blogs or even tweets (unless the person would prefer to remain anonymous).

    I was rather annoyed recently to discover a well known and large organisation had used a long post I had written word for word to write a briefing, without either crediting me or asking first. Ironically had they asked I would have been very happy for them to use it.

    I have to admit thought that I used to be an academic researcher and so have particularly harsh views on what I see as a form of plagiarism, be it of amateur written work or "proper" artists work.

  2. I totally agree - once an examiner whom I knew was walking to a class with me and he showed me something he thought was rather good - this gentleman had come across it at a British Rail training day 30 miles away and wanted to my opinion.
    What a surprise it was a piece of my work and because of the nature of it I did not mind sharing it, however as I had never taught where this was being distributed how had it got there and how many times had it been passed on?
    Since then I copywrite everything and when I know it is going to be passed on and people may not be able to contact me directly then I always ask that a donation of £1 minimum for each copy is donated to charity

  3. It is a huge issue. People regularly copy our work, words and images...they then get surprised when we say we arent happy about it! They even copy great chunks of our information booklets or photocopy it! We clearly say in our booklets that this cant be done and now we are considering making our copyright right across the middle of images so as to put people off but that will kind of spoil the look! Grrrr

  4. In my experience people don't understand the implications of copying someone else's content wholesale. In the case of the HMSA material, it means the society loses out on money that it could use to support people with EDS, and research into the conditions. With private authors, it means less money to pay the hosting bills or even our living expenses. I had to tell one blogger to stop copying my entire posts onto her blog, because it meant my traffic (and thus ad revenue) went to her public blog host, not to me. Plus, it's just rude.


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