Dear Authors, Let's Talk Copyrights

I want to chat about something that has been bothering me more and more lately. I may actually rant, but it's only because I'm passionate about this topic. Copyrights in regards to photos and images.

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you'll see that I regularly post things on Instagram. I love Instagram, and I spend a good amount of time there. But there is one thing I absolutely don't love about it.

Authors who use pictures that cleary aren't theirs to use in promoting their books.

How do I know they're using pictures that aren't theirs, you may ask. Well, unless they've contacted the professional photographers - or are the photogs - who've shot pictures of guys like David Beckham, Channing Tatum or that dude from Sons of Anarchy and gotten written permission to slap their book title all over the images and rename these guys to fit their characters....then yeah, they're basically stealing pictures. Maybe it's not them personally, as I know several authors who have people who create those things for them. Either way, they're violating federal copyright laws that are in place to protect people who create things, because whether they created it or not, their name is on it.

This bugs me for a few reasons.

One, I've spent nearly a decade of my life as a professional photographer, taking pictures of babies, families, weddings. I've had my work stolen...it's not fun. In fact, it's a huge headache. Not only is it stressful, but money, time, possibly potential future clients are all lost. Why? Because the work done as a photographer is tarnished by whatever the person who's lifted the images decides to do to it. For instance, say you're the photographer. Someone decides they are a photoshop expert, and copies one of your images, does some horrendous editng, and then shows the newly edited image off to friends telling them "Check out the pictures I had done with so-and-so!". You could probably cross those folks off the list of future clients because they'll think what they saw was your work, when in reality it wasn't.

Two, if someone will steal pictures to promote their book, put them in a collage and blatantly post them on Instagram for the world to see, what makes you think they won't steal other work. Maybe even YOUR work? I'm not saying they will, but who's to say they won't?

Three, it's lazy. There are tons of sites where you can get stock photos for relatively cheap, or even free. A simple Google search will get you started. There is no reason to use someone else's images just because they have famous faces to grab the attention of the folks on Instagram. It's not fair to the photographers who took the original photos, or to the subjects of the photos used. Those people didn't ask - nor were they asked - to represent a character in one of your books.

So, long story short....don't use pictures that you either didn't take yourself, purchase, or have permission to use. Using images that were taken by someone else, without permission or purchase, is leaving yourself open to potentially huge lawsuits and fines. Not cool, so save yourself the trouble and keep it classy. Stay legal.

Till next time,

H.C.

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