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Author's profile photo Tom Van Doorslaer

Image copyright – tips for bloggers

I often write little articles or stories online, because I simply enjoy telling a story. To spice things up a bit, I try to add a couple of pictures or drawings to each story I share. Most of these pictures and drawings are my own. I have a camera, I have pen and paper and I can play around a bit with MS Powerpoint or a paint program. Some of the pictures I use(d) however, where simply found via Google Image search.

I know a lot of us do that. We’re technologists, or we have some knowledge of certain business area’s, but very few of us are lawyers and have knowledge of copyright regulations.

Apparently this holds a very real risk. Today, I stumbled across an interesting article on image copyright and blogging.

Basically, you can get sued for using an image in one of your blogs. This lead me to quickly review all of my articles on SCN, my personal blog and anywhere else. A lot of the pictures I had been using were not mine, and even though I always referred the source with full credits, this still puts me in violation.

So I removed all pictures where I wasn’t sure whether or not I was infringing someone’s copyright, and I started replacing them by other public-use pictures.

Up to now, I never had any issues over using pictures in a blog (thank God) and if possible, I want to avoid such problems at all.

A good tip I received from a fellow social-medialist is using Google advanced search and only search for images “free to share“.


But even better, is to only use your own artwork.

I know how a lot of other frequent bloggers, like me, use pictures to brighten their articles up a bit.

This information can be very useful for you as well.

This also means that, using pictures of Dilbert in a blog, is not allowed. Not even if you add credits and link to the original page.

As I know how we all love Dilbert and frequently quote him, we have to be careful when embedding one of the comics.

I’m not sure about putting the link to the original picture without embedding it though.

Anyone has an idea?

Another issue I encountered whilst reviewing my own articles, is that I can no longer edit my blogs in technology_innovation . If I can’t edit my own material anymore, am I then still liable, or does scn assume responsibility at that point?

It also makes me wonder: If I take a picture of a copyrighted painting and I use that picture in my blog, am I then violating copyright?

Even better: suppose I take a picture of a Porsche and publish it: am I then violating the copyright of Porsche?

Other useful tips on blogging are in the “Build a Better Blog”-series by Tim Clark:

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      Author's profile photo Ludek Uher
      Ludek Uher

      An excellent blog. I often wondered about many / all of the points you touched on. And there are so many other questions this brings up. For example; if I download and modify a graphic, at what point is it mine? E.g.; say I change the color of someone's eyes. Is that enough? Hair color? Skin color? Change the face, leave the body as is/was? Add a different background? Pink sky?

      Creating images from scratch seems kind of like re-inventing the wheel - every time I want a wheel...

      Re. adding a link to an original picture. I'd think this would be fine. Else, if not, then what would be the difference of using a link to someone else's content (be it blog, article, wiki, picture or what ever)(?).

      This I find most interesting though:

      This also means that, using pictures of Dilbert in a blog, is not allowed. Not even if you add credits and link to the original page.

      Question I'd have is; if that is the case, what would we have to do in order for this to be ok. Get an explicit ok from the author or his agent?

      Finally, I wonder if KM / SCN / SAP needs to take a look at this very, very seriously and provide guidelines - specifically for SCN content(?).

      Perhaps the most scary thing in all of this is not authors that work for SAP, but authors external to SAP. Is SAP responsible for their content also? E.g.; we can create internal training, rules, etc., etc., at SAP. What do we do for non SAP authors?

      - Ludek

      Senior Support Engineer AGS Product Support, Global Support Center Canada

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      "Originality is the art of concealing the source."

      Relating this quote to your first question, I would say that when graphic is modified enough to hide the source, or there is a significant added value.

      Adding link is absolutely fine. Internet is all about links and hyperlinks, at least the Web 2.0.

      Embedded image whose source is parent website, is called hotlinking. It is considered ok in many cases because original creator can use image load statistics to predict popularity/views.

      Copying image and then embedded it would be considered pure copying of content.

      There is also a logic of fair use. If you copy image and downsize or degrade its quality before using, and attribute the creator, it is considered fine. It really depends on to what extent the author is willing to assert its copyright.

      As long as moderators are responding the copyright complaints by locking content, SCN/SAP is fine. Sort of like DMCA safe harbor protection.

      I am no expert on this topic, but there is no harm is expressing opinion.

      Author's profile photo Ludek Uher
      Ludek Uher

      Thank you for the comment Manish. I certainly had a chuckle over the quote;

      "Originality is the art of concealing the source."

      Author's profile photo Tom Van Doorslaer
      Tom Van Doorslaer
      Blog Post Author

      That's what I also thought, but apparantly downsizing an image is not enough.

      From the article:

      Current Fair Use image copyright laws say that you’re financially liable for posting copyrighted images, even if:

      •     You did it by accident
      •     You immediately take down the picture after receiving a DMCA takedown notice
      •     The picture is resized
      •     If the picture is licensed to your Web developer (Getty Images requires that you get your own license, thank you very much)
      •     You link back to the photo source and cite the photographer’s name
      •     Your site isn’t commercial and you make no money from your blogs
      •     You have a disclaimer on the site
      •     The pic is embedded instead of saved on your server
      •     You found it on the Internet

      That's all pretty worrying... 😯

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      This is one of the reasons why Richard Stallman has such a strong view against copyrights and software patents.

      Author's profile photo Tom Van Doorslaer
      Tom Van Doorslaer
      Blog Post Author

      Well, on the Dilbert website, there is an option to license certain cartoons. I guess it's okay to reuse a cartoon if you licensed it that way.

      Author's profile photo Eduardo Rezende
      Eduardo Rezende

      Very good tip Tom!

      Author's profile photo Achmad Dimyati
      Achmad Dimyati

      Hi Tom,

      If I use any pictures from SAP Marketplace in SCN blogs and put it with info:

      ©<YEAR>, SAP SE or and SAP Affiliate company, All rights reserved

      Is it enough or should I create my own version?

      Author's profile photo Tom Van Doorslaer
      Tom Van Doorslaer
      Blog Post Author

      Legally, you would have to acquire written permission from SAP to use their copyrighted material.

      Although I doubt that SAP is going to give you a hard time for using an image from the marketplace on the own SAP Community Network.

      Providing the source of the image is no protection from copyright infringements. Never.

      That's like stealing money from a bank and then saying: "yeah but the money is from HSBC, so it's fine, I didn't do anything wrong, because I mentioned were I stole it..."

      When you think about it that way, it does make sense, right?

      PS: taking a picture of a picture and using your version, is still a copyright violation of the original work.

      It's even going as far as: taking a picture of building and posting that online, is a violation of the Architect's copyright on that building.

      I have yet to see any actual claims, but in theory, it's all very tedious.

      Actually, there has been a lawsuite in Belgium, where an artist made a painting of a picture, and was convicted to paying a fine for copyright infringements. so there are precedents...

      Author's profile photo Achmad Dimyati
      Achmad Dimyati

      Hi Tom,

      Thanks a lot, actually I have tried fill-in the form which has been provided by SAP but the word document itself has an issue. I can't put my detail in the provided table.

      Do you have any idea what will be the implication if I ask formally to the

      Author's profile photo Tom Van Doorslaer
      Tom Van Doorslaer
      Blog Post Author

      Hi Achmad,

      Unfortunately, I do not know the details of contacting every organisation's copyright department. That's something you'll have to figure out on a case by case basis.