Since I decided to take this blog more seriously, I’ve been doing research into the legal side of all this internet stuff. I thought that tax would be the hardest thing for me to understand, but honestly, copyright is the area which I find the most confusing. Fashion blogs are FULL of copyrighted, illegally used images. Especially small little blogs like mine. At this moment in time I’m thinking about all the pictures I need to replace and thanking myself that I did this now and not later. A lot of people think that any photo can be used as long as you use it in the context of a review. Copyright law (in the UK at least) does state that you can reproduce small amounts of a copyrighted work for the purposes of reviewing it. What a lot of people don’t know, is that in the UK, copyrighted photographs are not allowed to be used in the context of news reporting. Here’s what I found on Gov.uk:
“Fair dealing for criticism, review or quotation is allowed for any type of copyright work. Fair dealing with a work for the purpose of reporting current events is allowed for any type of copyright work other than a photograph. In each of these cases, a sufficient acknowledgment will be required.
As stated, a photograph cannot be reproduced for the purpose of reporting current events. The intention of the law is to prevent newspapers or magazines reproducing photographs for reporting current events which have appeared in competitor’s publications.”
What I understand from this information is that a review is okay but news reporting isn’t when using copyrighted photographs. This is where it gets tricky, If I were to write a blog post about the red carpet of the MTV music awards, and included images of what all the artists wore and commented on it, what would that count as? To me that would be a review of the outfit choices of the celebrities. To the law however, it may be considered as news reporting. This is a risk I’m not willing to take. Bloggers can and have been sued in the past, it doesn’t matter if you don’t earn any money from your blog.
If I’m totally honest with you it makes me quite angry because copyright is not fair at all. As an aspiring artist/ designer I understand that these laws are in place to protect people like me from getting ripped off, however, that’s not how it works in real life. If a big company were to steal my work and sell it I would be powerless to do anything about it. Whereas I myself, could be sued for £10,000 by a huge company just for one low res image in a blog post that’s got about 10 views.
Luckily there free alternatives to getting sued that are totally legal and just as good in my opinion. Getty Images has a library of images that you can freely embed into your blog post. They come with the attribution already at the bottom of the image. If you look you will find hundreds of thousands of images you can use on your fashion blog. All you need to do is hover over the image, click on the embed icon (it looks like this </>). It will then allow you to select the size of the image that you want, and then give you a code. Just place this code directly into your blog post in the place you want your image and bam you are done. I actually prefer it because it’s so much faster than uploading images to WordPress.
As far as I’m aware, this is totally legal as long as you don’t use the images to suggest any sort of ownership of the image, or any partnership with the fashion brand that doesn’t exist. That being said, please please please do your own research before including images into your blog posts. I am NOT a lawyer, far from it. I just wanted to share this information that I found. I’m going to include some links below to information about UK copyright law. If you are from another country please look at different resources relevant to your own country. As far as I’m aware Getty images embed can be used in any country but PLEASE don’t take my word for it.
A VERY comprehensive but easy to understand guide by Gov.UK– This is a Government run website so it can be trusted.
A basic guide to Fair Dealing– Another easy to understand site, but you’re better off with Gov.UK in my opinion.
A link to the actual legislation– maybe worth a read if you are a brainiac/law student/ currently being sued. I haven’t read it.