Fair use of photos on blogs… the photographers speak out.

I had dinner with two big name photographers in L.A. recently. These are folks who’s name you might recognize even if you are not in the photography industry. I asked them both under what circumstances could use their images without paying them, they both immediately responded emphatically “under no circumstances!”–Jason CalacanisFair use of photos on blogs… the photographers speak out. (The Jason Calacanis Weblog)

The “fair use” doctrine indicates that it is permissible to use copyrighted material as part of a scholarly critique or review, so these photographers are mistaken.

I frequently encounter student web authors who use images without citation (let alone permission), despite my repeated reminders that this use is unacceptable for my course.

If I do reproduce a photo from someone else’s site, the blog entry includes a link to the original source, and the excerpt on my site provides context that makes it clear I am not claming credit for the image. In addition, I am always discussing the photo and/or the site itself. This is completely different from, for example, snagging someone else’s photo in order to provide atmosphere for the poem you have just written.

I also deliberately resize the image, so that the copy on my site is smaller, thus protecting the value of the full-size original. Of course, if the source image is a small graphic or only a thumbnail is available on the original poster’s site, that’s a different matter.

Something to think about the next time I want to use a picture for my blog…