DM for Credit

I am on Instagram a lot. I like visuals, and it’s the perfect platform for me. 

I keep seeing this over and over again, usually on those accounts that “feature” other user’s photos, but also on businesses, like @theecofriendlyhorse

“DM for Credit”

They found a picture they liked, decided to completely ignore the copywrite and posted it for their own purposes with no credit. They are thinking they are doing the right thing by mentioning they will give credit if someone requests it, but why does the copywrite owner need to be the one to track down this illegal usage? Illegal activity is okay as long as no one complains?

In the US, the copywrite of a photograph belongs to the person who took the photograph, regardless of the subject. So if I take a picture of my horse, it’s my photo. If I take a picture of your horse, it’s my photo. I own the copywrite. If you want to use the photo, you need my permission.

You are not supposed to use my photograph without permission. I’m not even talking about simply giving credit – just USING the photo without my permission is not okay. Saying you’ll give credit if I call you out on it does not make it okay. It is not my responsibly to guard my photos from you, it’s your responsibly to do the right thing. 

You can’t, however, just pull images off the internet – it’s your responsibility to determine if and how you can use the image without violating copyright.

Every image – whether you find it on Google, social media or on a stock photo site – gains copyright as soon as it’s created, and it’s up to you to know whether or not you have legal right to use it.

The consequences of violating copyright (even accidentally) are serious.

Those found guilty of copyright violation could face charges up to $150,000 for each infringement.

Should a case go to trial, a party found guilty of copyright infringement is also responsible for all attorney fees and court costs.

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Chances are it wouldn’t go to trial – The photographer would ask for it to be removed, and the person would likely comply. But still, these people are breaking the law, and pretending they don’t know where they found a photo (was it in a USB just sitting on the side of the road? A lost photo with no home?).

When I see it on those collection instagram accounts, I assume it’s just a teenager running the account who doesn’t know any better. When I see it on a business, it’s cringe worthy and unprofessional. Seriously, just take the two seconds to DM the owner of the photo and ASK if you can use their photo. Or even in the comments. Why is it so difficult to acknowledge and give credit to a photographer who’s photo you apparently like? 

I know social media has blurred the lines a bit. It’s a platform where we are supposed to share things we like. If you’re just a user sharing another photo, I think that’s wonderful and fine, just credit where you found it. I’ve had my photos shared by users and honestly, it’s thrilling that someone else likes my photo. 

However, if you’re a business, you’re clearly trying to get out of PAYING for a photo. So for those businesses who don’t want to pay the pennies required for a stock photo, here’s a tip – there’s places where you can get photos royalty free and credit free, like the creative commons. Look it up. Those photos are donated, don’t need credits, and you can do whatever you want with them. And then you won’t be breaking the law and looking like a jerk. Or you could also just ASK to use a photo, because chances are the user would be thrilled someone liked their photo. And everyone appreciates getting credit for their work. 

Seriously, just do the right thing. 

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