I love taking pictures. Although I’m not a professional photographer, I’ve been asked to shoot numerous weddings, doggy events, and other special occasions. I have thousands of pictures on my computer.
But I needed more business type photos for a blog I was doing on school bullying, so I did a Google search and found some really awesome photos and I saved them to my computer. Some photos say right on them that they are copyrighted, but most do not. I remember being warned by a close friend about using photos off the internet, but I’d done it before and nothing happened, so I figured it was no big deal. After all we’re a non-profit organization that helps people and dogs, not some business out to make a million dollars on a photo.
Turns out, I should have listened to my friend. Recently Getty Images sent me a letter, saying they were charging me $600 for using that photo. I did some research online and found that the best protocol to deal with Getty was to write them a letter explaining that I had no idea the photo belonged to them and I’d already removed the tiny picture from my blog and website. I also informed them that we had no funds–that all of our money goes into rescuing needy, hurting and abused people and dogs.
The next letter I got from them said if I didn’t pay the $600 they were suing for more. So I waited, praying this would all go away like a bad dream. But it didn’t. They sent a third letter, this time from an attorney saying they were suing for $1,600! I called my tax attorney. He advised me to make them an offer and settle out of court, so I did. If they do not settle for the amount I’ve offered them and take me to court, we will be forced to close our non-profit. I will keep you informed.
So, bloggers, web designers, and searchers beware of stock photos on Google and other sites that appear to be free. After all, what is free today? The only thing I know for sure that is free is salvation in Christ, and that’s way better than any picture you can take or buy, and it’s everlasting for this life and the life to come.
I will say, this has taught me a valuable lesson. Now I take all my own photos that appear on my blog or website, or if I do use other photos I get permission from the person that the image belongs to before I even consider using it!
Proverbs 12:15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.
Lisa Freeman is an Award-Winning Author, Speaker, and Dog Trainer from Owosso, Michigan. She has founded two non-profit organizations to stop abuse, bullying and violence and bring healing to all. To learn more about her, rescue dogs, therapy dogs, dog training, or to book her to speak or present at your next event, log onto http://www.DogsPawsForHealing.com