Why Online Image-Borrowing Is Good Policy

Seeing as how I grab lots of images for my posts, like the photo by my old employer TIME.com in this post, I figured it was fair to elaborate on my own beliefs on borrowing images across the web: everybody wins.

My photo-editor friend Maria, also formerly of TIME.com, said it best when she noted that as long as the website that’s borrowing the image links to the original website that produced the image, then she had no problem with anybody else using that intellectual property.

I heard that. Not only does this allow the blogger or whomever to get some free visual content onto their site, it creates an attractive link promo for users to head back to the image’s original site.

That’s assuming you follow the policy of linking to the image source. If you don’t, then you’re just a jag. I try to be very good about the non-jag policy of image use around here, though I probably have a few jag moments that I’ve missed now and then. (I just went back and linked up an Obama victory image when I noticed it wasn’t linked. Whoops.)

To summarize: image stealing = good when credit is given.

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2 Responses to “Why Online Image-Borrowing Is Good Policy”

  1. ok, the original publication gets traffic, and that’s good assuming they actually paid for the image. however the photographer who created the intellectual property is getting screwed. he gets paid by his customer for specific usage, at least that’s how it’s done in print design. a publication the size of time might buy an image for unlimited usage or contract with a photographer to work for hire and thus own all rights to the image. if they don’t then it’s not up to the photoeditor to be morally satisfied with some surplus traffic generation. she doesn’t own the right to give you the image anyway. your argument is the moral equivalent of running off a few hundred copies of a book, and throwing the publisher some props, then the publisher gets all happy about some extra advertising. But what if the author gets paid based on sales volume?

  2. That would be true under the old rules, but most publications these days write their photo contracts for unlimited usage and rights in perpetuity. While that’s not as desirable for the photographer, they know what they’re getting into when they sign the contract. It’s a different model these days.

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