Blogging,  Copyright,  Great information,  THOUGHTS

Listen Up! – #5 Tips to Protect Yourself from #Copyright #Infringement

If it happened to me, it could happen to you!



Do you know where all the photos come from that you use to spice up your blogs?


Some of you may have noticed my sparse visits around blogtown and social media these past few days. That was because I’ve been a busy beaver, trying to protect myself from FURTHER copyright infringement. Yes, you read correctly – further.


We’ve all read enough articles on the perils of copyright infringement, but do we understand the rules completely when it comes to adding photos to our blogs?


Apparently, I thought I was adhering to the rules, but Thursday morning I woke up to an email sent to me from LCC, telling me that I was being fined for unlawfully having used a photo which was posted on one of my blogs.


At first I was shocked at the email, but after discovering what the photo was that caused the fine, I was even more shocked. It wasn’t a photo that I had chosen myself to post, it was a reblog I posted, and as I always like to write a little bit about what I’m reblogging about as an intro to the reblog, I had chosen to copy and add the photo pertaining to the reblogged post, to highlight the post. I unknowingly trusted that the photo on the reblog was safe to use because it was used on the original post. Had I just wrote the intro and only linked to the reblog itself, without adding the photo from the post on my page, I wouldn’t have been incriminated. By including his photo on my page direct, I was displaying his illegally obtained photo.


Incidentally, the post in question was written 2 years ago, which brings me to another important fact; many free photos have stipulations. Some are free only for a certain amount of years – usually 1 or 2. It’s possible someone used that photo thinking it was free and the free part expired in 2 years, because ironically, the post in question was posted in December of 2013. So never assume a photo is free to use unless you’ve checked the licence rights on the little blurb that always accompanies a photo from the site you’re on when you click on it to download.


What you should be looking for is CC0 – Creative Commons Zero, which is public domain.

contract fine

If you aren’t sure about where a photo originated from, use the site to upload the photo in question, and it will show you where the photo came from and where it’s been used and it’s licence permissions. (No doubt, this is where the person checked his photos to find the one on my site.) Here is a link to a post I wrote about this last year


Naturally, I called the number listed on the email notice, and asked them a lot of questions to be armed against future fines, and of course, to share here with all of you. It hurt to have to pay $130 for a photo used that I wasn’t even aware was copyrighted material. And even though I removed it immediately, I still had to pay the fine.


The woman I spoke with told me I was lucky it was only $130. She said there are photos that incur thousands of dollars in fines. She also told me (when I asked), that they send out plenty of fines all the time.



Now, you may all be left wondering, what about posting cute little memes off Facebook and other social media sites?


Rest assured, I didn’t forget to inquire about the rules of sharing social photos we copy and paste from social sites. The woman told me that because social media is all about sharing everywhere, there’s no way of controlling all the shares. BUT APPARENTLY, if you share something off social media on YOUR BLOG, there is always a possibility you can be fined, if caught.


Needless to say, I had almost 500 blog posts since I began blogging in 2013. If you go through all your posts in your dashboards, you’ll find there are about 20 per page. Each page took me about 45 minutes to an hour to go through and check on photos I’ve used. If I didn’t know where they came from, I deleted them. Due to time constraints (as this is a daunting process), some photos I replaced and some remain photo-less, as my main objective was to delete unknown photos from further penalizations down the road.


This process took me well over 30 hours to clean up my posts. Certainly, this was a grueling exercise, very time consuming, but I never want to wake up to another scary email from Creative Commons.


magnifying-glass-1020142_640 (2)




  • Use only your own photos or check licence for all photos copied from the web.
  • Use to check any photos in question.
  • Be careful when reblogging and including the photos of other’s on your page.
  • Go through old posts to make sure you haven’t used any photos unlawfully.

*Note: After posting this article and it was shared around virally, it got picked up by . While I was visiting the site and my article, I came across another informative article on, What to do if you receive notice of copyright infringement. Read it here, by Hannah Konitshek.


Coincidentally, I came across 2 articles this week that cited some excellent photos sites to use FREE on our blogs. There is also some excellent information about paying attention to the licence usage. The new photos I’ve added to this post were obtained from Just remember that FREE doesn’t always mean there’s not an expiry on the licence. CHECK THE FINE PRINT!


For another great explanation of how using photos from other people’s posts can be infringing copyright, check out this blog post

D.G.Kaye ©2015 

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D.G. Kaye is a nonfiction/memoir writer, who writes from her own life experiences and self-medicates with a daily dose of humor.


  • LindaGHill

    Holy crap. I’ll have to go through all mine too… Thanks so much for the info, Debby. Sorry you had to learn the hard way; I so appreciate learning from your experience though!

    • dgkaye

      Yes Linda, better safe than sorry. I had been telling myself for months that I must go do a check through all posts for this, and of course, because it’s a daunting procedure, I kept putting it off. This is why I posted here, because it is so important to watch our backs. So roll up your sleeves, and get to it! 🙂

  • olganm

    Scary. That is always a worry. I read somewhere that even when one uses an image that is free to use at the time, if the author decides to sell it later, you might still incur in charges so… is quite good too, but…

  • Sue Dreamwalker

    Thank you Debbie for that information.. I have saved that the site that checks photo links.. There are lots on my site from photobucket which I used prior to transferring to WP.. and I can not afford a hefty fine..
    I always try to source and link back where the photo’s are from, but like you say you do not know where they got them from.. A worry no one needs..
    So my heartfelt thoughts

  • Diane Tibert

    I recall reading a similar post concerning blog photos two years ago. At that time, I went through and removed anything that was not mine. That’s why many of my posts don’t contain pictures. When they do include images, they are mine either photographs I’ve taken of graphics made up in PowerPoint.

    I have worried about reblogging though, when pictures get posted to my blog from other sites. From my understanding of your post, it’s okay if I just reblog the post, but it’s not okay if I physically take an image and add it to the reblog.

    This worry has prompted me to manually reblog, which means I’ll take a snippet of the post, then add ‘to continue reading, visit’ and link to the post. No pictures from that other blog go on mine.

    What I might do is remove the reblogs I’ve done to ensure I don’t get fined. It would be horrible to be hit with a thousand dollar fine for something you really didn’t do, but were involved in.

    Thanks for the info.

    • dgkaye

      HI Di. Yes, you’ve got it right. You can reblog and link to the reblog, but don’t post any pictures on your page from that reblog, put up your own if you want. Apparently, the link doesn’t have any photos on your own page. Once the link is opened, you are already on the other person’s blog. So don’t worry about taking off reblogs, just check that you haven’t added any photos from the actual post on your own page. 🙂

  • Juana

    This is why I only use photos I myself have taken – and why my blog is usually photo-less.

    I have a question: Are you saying that if we reblog a post and that post has photos that are illegally obtained, we can also be fined for the reblog? I wasn’t completely clear about that, but now I’m a little worried, since I’ve reblogged a few things since I’ve been blogging.

    I’m sorry this happened to you – $130 is a small amount of money for some, but to be quite honest, for me, it’s a small fortune. Since I stay home with kids, I have no money of my own because I’m not able to work right now, and haven’t been working for two years.
    I hope you don’t run into this again!

    • dgkaye

      HI J, thanks for reading. And make no mistake $130 really hurt out of my budget too. Do you know how many books I have to sell to make that? Lol. Here is what I was told: If you reblog and link to the reblog with no photos you’re okay, because when someone opens the link to read, they have landed on the reblogged post, not your page. If you include a photo on your page from that reblogged post, then you will be fine if it’s illegal, as I was. 🙁

  • John Maberry

    Tough lesson. I noticed in one of your replies to a comment you clarified that reblogging without yourself adding the photo saves you from the penalty. That makes sense to me.

    There is this very strong suggestion that successful blog and social media posts MUST have images or infographics. I do try, some of the time, to comply. Canva offers a few free and a whole lot of $1 images to use in creating a graphic for a post. I suppose the Some-ecards are free too but they’re not as attractive as a good image but maybe one’s not always needed. Sometimes I use or make my own photos/graphics.

    If you search for an image to meet your needs you can also click on the more button on Google search to ID ones that are OK to use. The most dangerous site to use, in my opinion, is Pinterest. People “pin” stuff willy nilly with little or no attribution or checking on who might be a rights holder. Then, like the state trooper pulling a car over for speeding one might ask “why me and not the other guy driving the same speed?” The answer is it doesn’t matter, you’re the one he caught. Same thing applies with the infringement, they may not catch everybody but you could get caught.

    You can use other than the CC0, but you just have to follow the attribution rules.I would still be careful even with Pixabay. Like you said, check the fine print.

  • Hugh's Views and News

    Thanks so much for sharing this Debby. It certainly does make it very scary. I try and only ever use my own photos. However, I also give credit on my blog posts to any images that I do use. I always do searches for free images but I did not know about the time limit for some of those images. I’ll be checking my older posts out and either deleting them, or the images from them.

    • dgkaye

      Happy house cleaning Hugh. It’s grueling, but imperative. I’m still using CC0 photos as you can see on this post, but you have to make sure the artist has given up their copyright, indefinitely. <3

  • Ernesto San Giacomo

    I sometimes use Google Advanced Image Search. There’s a button for Free to use share or modify even commercially. When you get to the pic there will also be a clickable Creative Commons License icon. There are different levels of licensing so make sure you do that. Most of them ask for credit, state any modifications, and provide a link back to the CC License.
    Also, it is considered common courtesy to notify the photographer and tell them that you used it and provide a link back to your blog post.
    Oh yes, I have seen many clicks from Flikr into my blog. I can only assume the photographer or CC was checking up.
    So far so good. However, I didn’t know about the status of a pix changing over time. Guess I’ll have to do some back tracking.
    Awesome post DG!

  • Opinionated Man

    A hard lesson and I am glad you got it resolved. This is also why I don’t EVER use “free photos” from anywhere on the internet. I’ve also been very wary about reblogs hosting the photos on my blog through the reblog button, but it has seemed safe so far. Great write up and it is nice to share this lesson with others!

  • Tessa

    I either use mine or Pixabay. They say right on there free, public domain and no attribution necessary. They are CC0 and free for commercial use as well. I think they are ok to use or I am in trouble because I use them a lot.

  • Aquileana

    O…h that´s awful… Did you pay the fine at the end … I guess many paintings on my blog are public domain… But anyway… I am quite surprised at the fact that you were intimidated to pay… I would have never thought it… Great piece of advice, dear DG… thanks on behalf of all bloggers. Best wishes to you… Aquileana ★⭐

  • Jeri Walker (@JeriWB)

    I made sure to be more mindful about the photos I used a couple of years ago when Roni Loren faced some copyright issues on her blog for images she’d used. In addition to making sure an image is in the public domain, I always provide a link to it. If I’ve used an author’s photos or my own I add, “Permission must be granted by the author to use the images in this post.” I also try to remember to watermark my original photos. As for book covers and the like I note, “The images used in this post adhere to fair use guidelines.” Another issue some people don’t realize if that by posting a photo by URL link and not saving it to their blog’s media library, they are in essence stealing the bandwidth of the site that stores that photo.

    • dgkaye

      HI Jeri. Thanks for adding this valuable information. You brought up a good point, if one doesn’t add the attribution link into the media file to add to the picture then the attribution won’t show. Thanks for the good reminder about adding a watermark to our own photos. I had forgotten about that handy feature. (A future post?) And, I’m just wondering, even if you use a CC0 photo, public domain, do you feel compelled to use the artist’s name as another means of protection, or just as a courtesy? I ask because when I spoke with the woman about the photo in question I apparently infringed on, she told me if a licence isn’t valid, attribution to the photo doesn’t make it legal?

    • dgkaye

      Thanks Deb. That seems like a fair question, but very grey. Again, by posting links to another blog, the link will open on their respective page. But what would the blososphere be like if we kept reblogging with nothing else to add except a link? I don’t personally think if someone plagiarized what they posted it falls on us, I think it would go back to the source of the writer. Anyway, I like to write a bit of an intro to the person I’m reblogging about, and put up a paragraph or two, leading with a ‘Continue Reading’. In doing so, I always put the quotation marks around the paragraph, as if to reiterate that I’m quoting someone else, not saying it myself. Does that help? 🙂

      • Debby Carroll

        I think it does, actually. And, although I was wondering about liability, there’s a limit to how paranoid I want to be! Really important post, Debby. I’ve seen it reblogged already and hope it goes viral.

        • dgkaye

          Thanks again Deb. It is so important, as photos are a huge part of our blogging, which some of us take for granted the permissions. I’ve seen it posted on social media sites and reposted on many other blogger’s pages. I’m glad it’s getting circulated to help others. <3

          • Debby Carroll

            Yes. So far on my blog I use only my own photos. In my experience as an educational writer/publisher (my business for the last 20 years) I was involved in a few skirmishes about permissions for photos and images. While I never had to pay a fine and was able to successfully win all the battles and challenges, I figured blog-wise, I’d just like to avoid it. I’m probably more paranoid as a result of my own publishing experience than the average blogger, though.

  • edwinasepisodes

    Thank you for the warning Debby. i have to say I am going to be cleaning up my posts as this has given me quite a scare. I am sorry that you had this happen to you, but grateful you shared it with us

  • Ellie

    HI dg, how discouraging! So sorry you were fined and now you’ve warned that it can happen to any one of us! When I post photos for my blogs I use Bing and check the pull down menu for “Free to use” and al the other “free” opportunities. Are you saying that those are only free for a limited time too? I’ve been sharing many cute photos from Facebook too and now I’m concerned I might get fined as well for doing that. As a poor bi-vocational pastor’s wife that would HURT Big Time!! Praying that God protects and place it in His Hands.

    Thank you so much for caring to share this important warning with us.

    • dgkaye

      HI Ellie. Yes, I hear you. Do you know how many ebooks I have to sell just to pay that fine, arg. Some photos say ‘free’ but there may be stipulations. Check the licencing rights. Look for CC0 (creative commons zero), public domain. If you go to, for example, click on a photo from their free section, to the right it will tell you the rights clearly and offer the download. Not all sites are clear with instruction, but all should have a button to click to check for rights which will tell you what different copyrights involve. Watch on those free photos that they don’t have expiry licence, which could be CC1 or CC2, with expiry years. Like I said, the woman I spoke with told me social media pics we use on our blogs are a grey area when we post and reshare on all our social sites, but posting off FB and the likes, she told me, the artists have a right to fine for use if it wasn’t obtained correctly. When I heard that, I took off all my FB posts just to be sure, so I could feel better about. 🙂

      • Ellie

        Thank you so much for all this advice dg, you have such a generous spirit. Yes, it’s extremely scary and I’m so sorry that you, who would do anything for anyone, would be caught up with this. My hubby had a question for you. Knowing human nature, how does one protect themselves and are assured the one contacting you isn’t a scammer? (For me, I hope I can find where the code is located.) For now I am taking out most of my photos until I do! Thanks again kind lady,

        • dgkaye

          Hi Ellie. Thanks as always, for your kind words. Are you asking me about the notice I received, informing me of the fine? If so, I followed the link that was sent to LCC (Library of Creative Compliance). There was a direct link to where the photo was obtained from. I googled up the name and found a forum where people had received letters in the past of infringement, and even though many were weary of the validity, nobody proved otherwise, and some hired lawyers to prove their right of use. So, I figured, I don’t want any trouble, I’m a law abiding citizen, and $130 was cheaper than getting into legal stuff. I’d rather be safe than sorry. If you’re concerned about licence with your photos, download them to and find their origins and licence. 🙂

          • Ellie

            wow!!! I agree, sometimes this world can be pretty nasty, can’t it? What a complicated and unfair situation to happen to such a lovely person! (I’m sorry to create such a time consuming reply but I sure appreciate you for doing so my sweet friend. I think it’s time to relax under that warm Phoenix sun and enjoy a double margarita now – soon very soon, 🙂

  • Susan

    Wow, this is pretty scary! I use only my own photos on my blog, but I have friends and fellow-bloggers who use a site called “freedigitalphotos” so I’ve warned them to look up the current status of those photos and to maybe delete the ones from older posts.

    Are the rules the same about posting other people’s videos from YouTube? Presumably if you have that filmmaker’s permission, it must be okay as long as they haven’t put anything in it that isn’t theirs to share publicly – is that right? I uploaded some YouTube videos to my other blog in the past, but I’ve just deleted most of them after reading your post because I don’t want to take any chances and I don’t have dollars to throw away either.

    Thank you for sharing your lesson which you unfortunately learned the hard way. I’m sorry you had to pay such a hectic fine, but you have probably saved many of us from the same fate.

    • dgkaye

      Hi Susan. Thanks for visiting and reading. You raise some good questions about posting videos. I haven’t done a check on that, but I’ll make it a point to look into. It seems I have a lot of bloggers here ‘cleaning up’ house with photos as I did. But as I like to think of myself as a great sharer of helpful info, I was hoping to enlighten everyone here that it can happen, and does happen that illegally obtained photos are caught. It’s as easy for anyone to input their photos into and see where their photos are circulated. Better safe than sorry when in doubt. Maybe you should try inputting one of your videos into tineye?

  • Sherri

    Arrrrgh…just lost my entire comment! Oh Debby, I am so very sorry you had to go through all of this, what an absolute nightmare, and you were right, this makes for eye-watering stuff. Thank you so much for sharing with us all you’ve learnt and the great links. I started off sharing my own photos on my blog thinking it would be nice to illustrate them and I’ve always enjoyed taking pics, but that’s because I didn’t know where to find all those professional, slick images I saw on other blogs, and also I was scared of copyright issues. But I have used a few images I thought were free (going back three years almost) and after reading this, I’m not going to check them at Tineye and/or delete them all, just to be safe. Yikes! You’ve reminded me of a post I wrote back when I was a baby blogger in August 2013 about copyrighted song lyrics you might be interested in:
    A touchy subject for sure, but one we all need to be aware of. Hope things are calming down again for you Debby, and no more scares like this. So sorry you had to pay that fine, and for a reblog too! Wow…who knew? I had no idea, nor about the timing on ‘free’ images. Will be sharing this post on social media pronto…hugs <3 xoxo

    • dgkaye

      Hi Sherri! Thanks so much for your feedback and showing your link to your article. Thankfully, I had learned about copyright on song lyrics long ago, but no matter, songs or photos, copyright always seems to be such a grey area for us. If they’d just talk in plain English and state the laws implied, it would be so much easier.
      This whole process is so annoying and enough to make anyone not want to use photos. Then we’re told we have boring, uneyecatching blogs, lol. We can’t win.
      Thanks for sharing and hopefully, helping others from this menacing fine. xo <3

      • Sherri

        Thanks Debby, I hope you didn’t mind me posting the link in my comment. Afterwards I did think that you would already know all about song lyrics, so it was a bit redundant of me 😮 Still, as you say, it is such a grey area. Ha…yes, we can’t win. But we press on and do what we do…just this time, making extra sure we aren’t in any danger of infringement. As if we don’t have enough to worry about, right? Thanks again Debby for your excellent post, I know it’s been a great help to a lot of people 🙂 xo

  • paulaacton

    Saw your post via Linda’s page and cannot help think that it is one law for some and a different for others, you get fined for inadvertently using images shared online and other people make millions from them without any sort of redress the the peoples whose images he used I think it is certainly a grey area that I can only see getting more complex as technology evolves. I generally try to only use my I do however pay for a licence for a video loops site for making book trailers and only use music now from either the youtube library or free music which comes with my editing software but I just noticed I need to update my own copyright notice as mine is still 3.0 lol

    • dgkaye

      HI Paula, thanks for sharing. It certainly seems so, and of course it’s always the little guys getting hit too. Thanks for pointing out the 3.0 update too. 🙂

  • D. Wallace Peach

    Rats! Thanks for the terrible news. Ha ha. I have some work cut out for me…I favorited all the links – those will come in handy! I don’t have nearly the number of posts, but I only started paying close attention after your last warning. 🙁

  • Vashti Quiroz-Vega

    Wow! I use photos all the time that I get from social media like Tumblr, Pinterest, and Facebook. I didn’t realize it was that serious or that you could be fined. Thank you for the valuable information, Debby. I will start looking through my posts. What if you always give credit to the artist or photographer of the image? Could you still be fined? 😮

    • dgkaye

      HI Vashti. I’ve been hearing a lot about using social media photos. If the licence is copyrighted in a certain way ie: whether creative commons licence with stipulations, then attribution won’t help. You have to find out which creative commons licence is applied to the photo. It could be public domain with CC0 (which is zero claim) or it can be free for only a certain time frame such as CC1 or CC2 years. Some only ask for attribution. The best way to find out is to download the image to and it will tell you where the photo originated and if what licence is on it. That’s why for so many photos I wasn’t sure about, I just deleted them permanently. I didn’t have time to go through hundreds of photos. As for using pics of social media, I mentioned what she said: It may not be likely that we could get caught for using them from FB etc., but it is definitely possible that the artist could come after us for posting. So I choose to not even use them anymore either. It’s a real eye-opener. 🙁

  • elainemansfield

    Oh my, oh my. It’s one reason I love to use my own photos. If I can’t find it on wikimedia, I usually assume I can’t use it. Thanks for the tips and warning. Blessed Solstice (and Merry Christmas).

  • Sacha Black

    This is well scary. :s I am terrified it will happy to me. I had a look on the tinyeye – what is it you are looking for on their website? i.e. I searched for a particular image I used before i knew better and has gone a bit viral and it found it as an image on tumblr – but what does that mean? I was expecting it to say if it did or didn’t have permissions :s

  • Janice Wald

    Oh no Debbie, I am so sorry. I still don’t think I saw this, so I am glad you brought it to my attention, but I had oral surgery Monday, and I have not had a chance to check Emails.
    1. I pinned this to my blog reference board if I need to reference it in the future.
    2. I am so very sorry. Yuck, yuck, yuck. Reblog? That means you were trying to give someone exposure and promotion and you had a bad thing happen as a result. Yuck, yuck.
    3. Your article/warning has made me further committed to taking my own photos, no matter how hard they may be to find .
    4. I heard of someone in this situation who had to get a lawyer. I agree. You got off easy considering.
    Thanks for telling us. Check in with me when you get to Arizona. Have a safe trip.

    • dgkaye

      Thanks for finding this Janice. This post has been helpful for so many as you can see by the comments here. It’s a big lesson indeed. Hope you’re having a Merry Christmas and I’ll be around on and off in the next week as I’m trying to get do much done before I leave for the big trip next Thursday. 🙂

  • CJ Andrews

    Wow! This is great to know!

    I always use for my pictures, and I know to check that they’re free for public domain use. And I look for any attributions that might be required. I didn’t know the license could change or expire…and I never thought about being responsible for someone else’s post that I might share.

    Sorry you had to learn this lesson the hard way, but I’m so glad you shared it! Thanks!

    • dgkaye

      Thanks for visiting CJ. I’m always on the prowl for useful information, and happy to share and spare others, lol. I’ve begun using Pixabay too after this debacle. If a licence has expiry stipulations is won’t be listed as CC0 (zero licence). It may have CC1 or CC2 or listed beside whatever stips are to be applied. We’re okay with CC0. 🙂

  • Cathy Armato

    Thanks for sharing your experience to help other bloggers! We really have to be so careful to ensure we are following regulations even when aren’t the original author of the content. Sorry you had to go through that )- :

  • Michael

    Thanks for this insightful article, Debby! I didn’t think you had such “efficient” LLC’s too. 😉 I always have to argue with LLC’s in court because I hired them for cases, and they literally “drove the lawsuit against the wall”. That’s why a lot of LLC’s don’t like me. One reason why my blog has been “privatized” since 2018, and I only forward the reblogs on Twitter and RSS portals. Better safe than sorry, as does not disclose the use of some cookies as one would like here in Germany. Apart from that, no internet traffic should be directed to the USA. I’m very pissed off, but we have an interior minister from Bavaria in Germany – the “Law & Order State”. 😉 Thanks again and best wishes for the weekend! Michael (at some point I’ll hike from here! :-)))

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