Thoughts on images

I’ve done a fair amount of professional (and unprofessional, haha) work in graphic design, photography, applied art, layout, writing and other creative pursuits, and one area that I continue to be perplexed by is the idea of giving credit online.  I wouldn’t think of publishing something in print that wasn’t properly sited or without getting permission to use it, but online this seems to be more flexible, and hence, more confusing.

I was reading a blog post (which made it to the Freshly Pressed page of WordPress.com) all about giving credit for images.  The end statement was basically to find out who took the original photo or created the original artwork, get permission, credit him or her, and link if appropriate.  However, just as the author of the post has found, blogs are fairly image-heavy, largely because blogs with photos or artwork are just more appealing to the reader.  Unless you are making a photography blog, it’s inevitable that you’ll be using someone else’s images to accentuate your point.  As I’m learning more about WordPress, I’ve also found that cross-promotion (using the publicize feature to post blurbs on Facebook for now) is all the better with a nice, vibrant, interesting photo.

Although I would love to have photos and sketches of everything I ponder in this blog, most of the time I am relying on linking to images.  Since often enough I am using other people’s images for inspiration or to focus my thoughts, it seems normal and natural to use the original inspiration (with a link back to the source of course).  Back in “the day” I would copy images to my computer and load them up to my own website, but with bandwidth issues being somewhat less of an issue than in the past, I generally consider this to be an acceptable practice, with the knowledge that if the owner moves the image, my link will be broken.

I’ve noticed on file-sharing websites like Flickr, that many photos allow sharing with link back, and the original creator gets to select how much sharing they’re willing to do, so perhaps that’s a good middle-ground, though often enough I’m finding things not on sites like Flickr (which I find actually quite hard to navigate) but on other places on the internet.

What are your thoughts?  I still don’t know entirely how I feel about this.  I feel confident knowing that I’m not claiming anything of my own, am driving traffic back to the original source, and am typically only putting things up with positive comments – but where do you think this line exists – between copyright infringement (or just plain bad karma) and the seemingly natural features of this medium?

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