Today’s article is a cautionary tale for bloggers I believe that if I can save one person the same issued I faced earlier then this article would have been worth it. I have been blogging for a while and have seen a few things. I am always extra careful to follow the law and Google’s guidelines. I was recently broadsided by something I did not see coming. That was a copyright infringement case regarding an image that was used on a website. In case you are wondering it was not this website.
How it started?
I from time to time get a website idea and will start a new project. If the website works out I keep working on it and grow it. My girlfriend came up with an idea for a website which we were going to work together on as co-authors. I thought to myself heck what could go wrong. She was new to blogging and I took the time to explain to her never to use copyrighted images and showed her places to get free images she could use freely.
In case you are interested in those sources of images you can use without worry you can read my article here. Now over time I was unable to write for that site as I was busy with this one which I was more passionate about and left her to keep that website as her own. She wrote a few articles well and then ended up deciding blogging was not for her. I left the website dormant for months and it was scheduled to be deleted at the end of the year when the domain expired. I forgot about the domain and I thought that was the end of that.
Here comes trouble!
One day recently I got an email. I thought it was spam but decided to read it only to find it was legit.I don’t want to cause any more issues so I will not be placing a copy of the email here due to the sensitive nature of the case.The email also stated that deleting the image from the website would not help as the damage was already done.
I was really worried and confused as I have always been careful to use only images that I own the copyright to or free Images without copyright.
Why did this happen?
I was able to log into the system and see the image in question and surly I had never seen it before. When I talked to my girlfriend I found she had uploaded the image and she had no clue as to the fact that it was copyrighted. I was furious, I questioned her and she said she did not do anything intentionally. I was able to recreate the situation. it seems she used Google image search and set it to filter out images that are free to use. Now there is nothing wrong with that but it seems that when she was given an image that was not copyrighted she looked in the related images section and saw one that looked better,now you may not realize it but related images in this case is not filtered. She ended up using one of those related image that was copyrighted.
Be careful Guys
I don’t want to get into the specifics of this case due to its sensitive nature. The long and short is that the image was on my server. My girlfriend placed in there although not intentionally. It was a mistake and I was facing a Law suit or a monetary fine for damages. I personally did not have that kind of money either. I immediately removed the image and made a public apology on the page, although I know they said removing it would not help. After all it was not intentional. Worse thing is that the domain was to expire in a couple months at the time and was not being used.
The person I dealt with was kind enough to hear me out and we came to a settlement.The matter is now resolved. I simply want to warn my fellow bloggers to be careful. Even if you are not doing anything wrong someone who uses your server might be unknowingly getting you into trouble so be extra careful.I was able to acquire the license to the image and I could have continued using it on the website. I decided not to as what happened was a mistake and the website is to be deleted as it’s not being used.I also made sure to delete all images she uploaded considering she probably made said mistake a few times.
How did they find this one Image?
The image in question was found as the company in question protects copyright holders of images. They use a proprietary tool that allows rights holders to scan the internet and find where there images are being used. So chances are if you use images that are copyrighted this and other services can find these images and take action.Even if the image has been modified in any way the system can still detect that the image is a match.
As a final thought please do make sure your images are not copyrighted,use the sources here or make your own images. Lawsuits are very expensive and sometimes you are either innocent or clearly in the wrong. My advise is that you monitor all your websites and make sure they are compliant.
Please note the above is not legal advise but simply a word of caution to my readers and fellow bloggers to be careful. Please share your thoughts below on the matter.Have you gotten any such emails lately that are similar in nature? please share your thoughts below in the comments.