Friday, January 21, 2011

Me and My Big Mouth

Sometimes I wonder why I can’t keep my big mouth shut. On Sunday, I got into a short discussion with writers Cheryl Hodd and Diann Hunt over the use of stock photos on their website. Diann seemed to take it fairly well, but I got the impression that Cheryl was a little upset with me. The thing is, I could’ve gone on my merry way without saying a word and not upset either one of them.

But here’s the thing, there seems to be a misunderstanding about the use of stock images. Most of the stock images you find online fall into a category that is known as royalty free. The confusion is that people seem to think that because the image is royalty free they don’t have to pay for it. That is not the case. Royalty free means that licensed users of the image don’t have to pay royalties. In other words, once they have purchased the image, they can use the image as many times as they like without having pay any additional fees. If you were to use such an image on a book, you could print 100 or 1 million copies of the book and not have to pay the photographer any more than you already have. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have to pay for the image and there aren’t restrictions.

For the purpose of this blog post, I purchased the image you see above. Notice that the image doesn’t have the Getty Images watermark that is a telltale sign that an image was obtained incorrectly. I paid $5 for this image. The size of the image makes it useful for blog posts and little else. But when I purchased the image I had to agree to five pages worth of a licensing agreement. One of the stipulations of the agreement is that if I use it on a website that I state that the image may not be copied for any purpose other than personal use. (You are so informed.) In other words, you can view my website, which requires a copy be made of the image onto your machine, but you may not reuse the image for your own purposes.

There are things in the agreement about what I can and cannot use the image for. It is ironic that one of the things is that the image cannot be used for pornographic purposes, since some of the images on Getty Images are pornographic, but that’s beside the point. What you should take from this is that you need to be aware that if you are using artwork created by another person you probably owe them some money. As authors, we should understand that better than most people. We write our books and we hope that people will pay us for our work. And to the person who took that picture, just in case you happen to read this post, I want to say that I am happy to give you whatever money you receive out of the five dollars in hopes that it will encourage you to keep producing artwork for the rest of us to use.