Cello Diaries: Thou Shalt Not Steal

Cello Diaries is kind of being hijacked again, but not entirely. This can relate to music, art, writing and photography just the same.

I came across a blog posting of a writer who, for her blogs, used photos that she found online. The photographer sent her a takedown notice and then requested compensation. She had to get a lawyer to help her navigate the issue and it still cost her. You can read more about it on her site.

The reality is, just because it’s online does Not give you the right to use it. I buy my photos from legal sites so I have paid for the photos I use for my book covers. I either purchase them or I shoot the photos for myself. I’m more of a landscape and waterscape photographer. Despite working as a photographer for a company where we did shoot people I wouldn’t say photographing people is my specialty. I don’t have money for models and I no longer have a studio so I prefer to stick with nature as much as possible.

When I need a photo of a person I buy one so that I can use the work legally. Of course I have been told you still have to pay attention to the license of the work too. It’s really complicated and getting more so by the day.

These photographers work hard for what they create. Stealing is wrong. A person using it without permission, without paying to use it, is stealing. They can try to justify it from now until forever, but it’s still stealing. It’s still wrong.

I came across a site on Facebook that shared so many beautiful photos. They were such a large site and supposedly for a good cause so I assumed they had taken the steps to make sure they had the right to use the photos. I found out that they didn’t have the right. How did I find this out? One of the copyright owners complained and asked for them to take down her pictures. Instead of being polite about it they decided to complain on their page and their members went to harass her on her photography page. I lost all respect for them and deleted my contact with them.

I have had a great deal of my work stolen. It not only negatively impacts my ability to pay my bills and support myself, but it also sucks the joy out of doing something I love to do. I federally copyright my work but that doesn’t stop people from stealing.

I know this is what movie execs and music industry types have gone through for years. They have lawyers who can go after those that they feel the need to bring suit against. Your average small business person doesn’t have so many lawyers, but you do have options.

So whether your business is photography, art, writing or music, you do have rights and you should be aware of them. You do not have to sit by and allow your work to be stolen. I know some people genuinely don’t know what they’re doing is wrong, but once you find out there is no excuse for continuing to do it. And for the record, legally, your ignorance on the subject won’t protect you either.

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