Bloggers Report Legal Trouble for Using Photos They Bought Online

a year ago

You may already know you can be sued for violating copyright law if you're using images you don't have the right to use on your blog. Roni wrote about her experience with a copyright lawsuit that ended up with her having to change out images on hundreds of posts, pay a photographer for a photo, and hire a lawyer to get her out of trouble—even though she didn't realize she wasn't following the rules.

But recently, bloggers have also reported being accused of copyright violation for photos they legally purchased online.

Image by Dai KE on Unsplash

Last month, Liz Krause shared her experience being sued for a photo she knew she had purchased. She said she was able to find her original download of the image, but had no proof that she had paid for it.

Another blogger, who has asked to have her details withheld because she is still in the process of negotiating, shared a similar experience with me last week. She told me that, to her understanding, she bought the rights to use the photo from a company that later sold the photo to a third party. The legal notification came from that third party, she says.

This blogger said that when she went to the site where she purchased the photo, but found that the transaction was no longer showing up on her account. She contacted the site and was told that the photo and its invoice had been archived. They did end up sending her documentation of her purchase, she reports.

Protect yourself from being sued

I wasn't able to verify these reports independently, but I think it's definitely worth a little bit of extra organization to make sure you're not vulnerable.

  • Take a screenshot of each online image you pay for, right as you acquire it.
  • File the screenshot along with with the image in your computer, grouped by the provider you got your images from.
  • Keep any receipts or invoices that were emailed to you.
  • Back everything up outside of your computer.
  • Document the source and license for all photos you have rights to use for free as well.
  • Make sure to add attribution and any licensing information as a caption on the photo on your blog.
  • Krause recommends going through your blog and proactively swapping out photos you can't find a paper trail for. For some bloggers, that's a TON of work, so it might be worthwhile to consult an attorney.

If you have a similar experience or any advice you want to share, email me and let me know.

Note: I'm not an attorney and I'm not providing legal advice, just giving an opinion. Definitely contact a real lawyer for legal advice, okay?

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