2 Ways Blogging Could Leave You Needing a Lawyer and How to Protect Yourself

Blogging is all the rage right now. The masses have witnessed the exciting power of sharing ideas and building followings with social media and an affordable WordPress website. Careful, though. If you don’t play by the rules regarding free pics and plagiarism, blogging could leave you needing a lawyer.

Blogging and Free Pics

I used to grab all my images off google searches until one of my good friends and multi-talented beauty blogger, Donata White, who happens to be a lawyer, clued me in to the risks of snatching free pics that don’t belong to you.

Essentially, there are three types of images online.

  1. Images you can use, free and clear.
  2. Those you must give credit.
  3. And images to which you have zero right to use.

When you perform a Google Image Search, it’s a game of roulette that puts your blog at risk of a suit. Your selected image could land in anyone of those three categories and you wouldn’t know if you’re violating copyright law. Instead of taking that risk, I’ll give you a couple options to check out for free pics.

Unsplash.com

unsplash free pics home page

The photos found at Unsplash are available free and clear, you can use them however you like (as displayed at the top of their homepage), and of great quality too. Because of its flexibility, Unsplash is one of my go-tos. However, Unsplash’s selection is limited and a lot of photos are kind of cheesy.

pixabay.com

Basically pixabay is the same as Unsplash with a better library, in my opinion. Before you download your free pics, check the notes above the button. Those clue you in on what’s acceptable.

pixabay free pic download rules

Foter.com

Foter is the same deal as pixabay but I have yet to see any that photos that don’t explicitly require some form of attribution. I’ve also seen many that don’t allow commercial use or modification. Foter’s library is stacked with good photos if you can find one you can use. Just make sure to avoid violating copyright law and drop the attributions in your post!

Example of Foter free pic Rules

Foter is usually the most stringent on this stuff

Blogging and Plagiarism

Plagiarism sounds like a real bad word. Most bloggers would never purposefully plagiarize someone else’s work. They’re here to deliver valuable content. The internet is a place for sharing ideas, right? Sure, unless you got your idea from somebody else, gave them no credit, and then it generated a ton of pageviews.

So what the hell am I talking about? I’ll give a real life example.

One of my friends has a YouTube channel where they post how-tos regularly. A writer for one of the big, massive, content-pumping millennial websites found a how-to of theirs and used it to write an article. The blogger took screenshots of my friend’s YouTube video and then used those photos as step 1, step 2, step 3 for their own how-to article.

Like I said, one of the massive, article-pumping mega-sites published this story, so it was only a matter of time before word got back to my friend that, “Oh my God! You’re on Millennial Super-Giant Blog Number 1!”

Guess what happened next…?

If you said, “suit,” then you would be correct! It never got that far, but my friend threatened suit for the theft of their content and demanded payment for the money the site made off that stolen content. To the tune of $8,000!

Not many of us garner enough to traffic to ever be sued for the 8 grand we made off one article, but this event should:

  1. Inspire and enlighten you as to how many dollars a shit-ton of clicks can be traded for, and
  2. Make you aware that you probably shouldn’t play with other people’s content.

Even with attribution, the mega-site still didn’t have permission to use my friend’s content so they were violating copyright law. Always ask the creator to borrow their stuff if you would like to use it. Also, maybe just don’t write a how-to if you can’t demonstrate the task yourself.

Wrapping up

Long story short, TL/DR, content theft is a risk when blogging, even if you “didn’t mean it.” Ignorance is not a defense in copyright law cases so make sure to keep your nose and reputation clean or your blogging could leave you needing a lawyer.


About the author

Kyle Milligan

I'm Kyle Milligan. I really enjoy writing. I wrote a couple novels (The Hang-Ups and Hangovers series) and now I blog frequently on a bunch of different websites. I also enjoy lifting heavy things and and writing about it.

Leave a comment: