Okay, so I have a recurring problem in that the thorny issue of images just keeps on cropping up. I just don’t really understand it. The latest has been with the AERIN images. Now, you have to remember that they aren’t ‘my’ images as such; they’re supplied by the brand, so bearing that in mind, then they are kind of up for grabs. However, I just think on an ethical stand-point, it’s good blogger practice to credit the original source, especially if it is completely obvious that nobody else has them (a quick check on Google Images will tell you how widespread they are or aren’t). It’s not quite the same for promo pictures that are everywhere. But acknowledging a source is just a good community thing to do; it shows you’re a team player in blog world.
So, I had a lovely email conversation with someone who’d used the images with no credit and it turned out that she had a family problem and someone else had uploaded them without her knowing. She was completely charming, apologetic and there was just no fuss at all, and certainly no acrimony, and she immediately added the source. But I have heard tell of some bloggers who outright refuse to credit images even when challenged because ‘they’re not doing anything wrong’ and they take them from anywhere they can find them. Legally, no, they aren’t doing anything wrong, but morally, yes, it’s just plain mean and poor spirited.
My general rule of thumb is that if the images are everywhere and particularly on retail sites, then no credit is really needed.. it’s impossible to ever find the original source on those occasions. If you know the pictures are exclusive to a particular blog, then repeating the images is fine but with a generous link – by that I mean you show one or two of the pictures and then send your readers over to the original site so everyone wins on traffic. A sneaky little link right at the very bottom of the post in teeeny writing when you’ve already showed everything – there’s no reason for anyone to go back to the originating site – isn’t playing fair. Blog traffic would be very much increased all round if everyone played by the generous link rule. And, finally, if the pictures are taken by the blogger, then you absolutely have to email and ask permission before you use them. Anything else is just plain wrong.
The work that goes into securing great images involves more than you can possibly imagine. It isn’t as though the PRs just ring me and say, hey, have these. I am extremely lucky that I have good relationships on the whole with PRs and brands, and occasionally it does happen that they come to me with something. But not that often.. mostly it’s about being ahead of the game with a ton of research across the Google universe, as well as reassuring people that they are going to be used positively and are of interest to my readers. I certainly do have to make my case. So it isn’t just a question of having it easy and things falling into my lap – sometimes it’s really a lot more complicated than that.
And that’s why I mind about people not even having the courtesy to link back.