Do you post pictures on your blog or website? If so, beware. Many photos you see floating around out there in cyberspace (even ones on “free” sites) are, in fact, copyrighted. Three years ago I posted a picture of a sunset on a friend’s website. I don’t even remember where I got the picture but am pretty sure it was off one of those “free” photo sites. Last week I received a letter from this large stock photo company saying they managed the copyright to the picture and dumped an enormous amount in “damages” on me. They threatened that if I didn’t pay the damages (which were in the thousands of dollars) they would sue me. Thinking this was some sort of scam, I did some research and found out that not only were they for real, this kind of thing is happening more and more. My wife called a lawyer and he basically said we had two options, try to call the company’s bluff or see if we can get the damages lowered on account of my ignorance. I explained my side of the story to the company, told them I had no idea the picture was copyrighted or that they managed the copyright. I pleaded ignorance and they did lower the damages considerably but it is still a big hit. My friend also received the same letter and did her part in pleading as well.
Apparently, these stock photo companies hire people to scour the internet looking for their images being used without license.
I write this as a heads-up and warning. I know it is common practice to see a picture you like and right click, “Save Picture As . . .” Don’t do it. You never know when someone is going to find that picture on your site and come after you. Please pass this information along to others.