If you have a blog or a site, use pinterest, run a group on facebook, or use pictures with your work here on fictionaut, please please PLEASE read Claire King's blogpost http://www.claire-king.com/2012/08/02/copy-right/ and click on Roni Loren's link near the bottom. It's scary and, as is so often the case in life, ignorance is no excuse.
I agree that a full cut and paste with no permission is egregious, even with a link. Mostly though, with my own pseudonym blogging of the last five years, I'll find my stories posted with a few lines and then a link. Even then, though, I object when it's on a completely commercial website selling hair products. Even with Google Reader, they allow you to choose between a cut and past job or just the first few lines and I always choose the latter. At least they ask (if you know to check).
I'm always careful downloading photos to my blog. Wikipedia tends to be a source of free use of images. With photography from the Internet, I always contact the photographer and they are usually flattered to have you use their work.
What I don't like is that you never know. Sometimes googling yourself can ferret out the offenders, but it's nearly impossible in most cases of commercial websites using your material as filler to sell products to contact anyone responsible.
As long as I'm credited, I don't mind so much even though it is generally infuriating. I would kill if it appeared under someone else's name.
Thanks for posting this Gill. Gloria, here's a useful site that will find out people who have copied your online work. http://www.copyscape.com/
Of course, to go out looking for that kind of thing is time consuming and then as you say, how do you follow up?
I honestly believe that many people really don't think they are doing anything wrong...
sobered me right up. i removed all the photos that were not taken by me from my stories and my site. thanks for the information, too.
Here's an even scarier cautionary tale: http://www.roniloren.com/blog/2012/7/20/bloggers-beware-you-can-get-sued-for-using-pics-on-your-blog.html/
Thanks to Cheryl Anne Gardener for drawing my attention to this and for Roni Loren for sharing the experience.
I use a lot of pictures on my various blogs. And I mean: a lot. I just checked: my media library in WordPress contains 1,129 pictures, which I used for my various blogs over the years.
You don't have to make all pics yourselves though it's fun to do so. What you really have to do is begin to understand online copyright. Not by hiring a lawyer, but by taking a look at http://creativecommons.org where these things are well explained, or at http://commons.wikimedia.org (rather than Wikipedia), which is where I get most of my photos from—apart from the free collections that many museums and libraries have put online (counting millions of fantastic photos: there's hardly ever a reason to use the copyrighted work of professionals): Library of Congress and State Library of New South Wales and many many others… if you are stirred up by these posts, invest the energy in finding some places with public domain visual material.
Let's not forget that as much as we like visuals, the true source and bottom of the global information exchange and the Internet is the WORD, not the picture!
The "free" photos posted online by museums are only available for use where no monies are to be gained. For instance, you may not use these on your book cover where you will be making money. People confuse 'in the public domain' as meaning it is there for the taking. Not so. The museums have catalogued every item in their collections. They can go after you if you use a famous painting, as your book cover. There are 'scanning devices' on the net to find these things and report them. I know a number of attorneys who have been involved in such types of cases. Rule of thumb: use original art work or photos, of your own, or an artist friend who wants some publicity, too, off your book cover.