Picture This: Connecting Photogs With Bootleggers

Oh, for the days when attaching artwork to a blog simply meant pinging around the Internet, running searches and eventually snagging a suitable image and dropping it into place.

You can still do that, but now you’re much more likely to get into trouble if that artwork is copyrighted and you haven’t asked for permission — or paid the photographer/artist.

A little back-story is in order here. For a long time, Google has removed much of the identifying data from images, which meant that the creator could not track who was downloading, and using, his or her artwork. As you might imagine, this did not sit well with the artistic community, which has been pushing for a change. In June, Google introduced Search By Image, which restores much of a photo’s information to it, and allows for tracking.

What does this mean? 1) Image users can find an image as they always did, but now can contact the artist or photographer and arrange for usage. 2) Copyright holders can hunt down image pirates and make them take down the artwork, or pay for its use.

Thus far, the reaction has been positive. Most people are more than happy to pay for an image, or continue searching until they find a free one that suits their needs. And most artists are more than happy to get their work out there. Sure, there are some who hold to the “if it’s on the Internet, then it must be, or should be, free” mindset, but their lamentations are going largely unheeded. And for those who have made an honest mistake and used a copyright image, the fix is usually quick (but could also be costly).

Need to find an image? Try the Google route, but you can also try engines such as TinEye and PicScout, which aren’t as robust as SBI but nonetheless have thousands offerings. And for fairly inexpensive (and some free) options, try iStockphoto or 123rf. It’s always a good idea to add something visual to a blog or other post, but it’s also smart to make sure that whoever created that visual has been properly compensated.