I have held back from publishing this for a while, as I wanted the emotional stress to fade away first. However, I really think all bloggers need to read about my experience. I am intentionally not naming names, or pointing fingers.
Last year I blogged about a tourist attraction I visited. The exhibition didn't allow photography, so I used google image search to find one image of some of the exhibits.
Fast forward to last week, when I received an email from the owner of the photograph. Actually not just an email, a bill.
Copyright infringement is strict liability - meaning it doesn't matter why/how/when you infringed it, you either infringed it or you didn't. I clearly had.
Removing the picture wasn't enough, the copyright owner wanted payment. The owner had also contacted many other blogs and done the same thing. Some of them had bills for thousands of pounds, as we were being charged per picture.
It seems in English copyright law, a cease and desist letter is used first, and then you have to assign an actual loss or gain. However this copyright owner isn't UK based, and in their country, the copyright law is a lot stricter. There was no point considering going to court. I would lose and then have legal bills to pay (from both sides).
So, despite almost always using my own photos, I was still caught out. I am now £350 down. A huge amount of money to a new business. On the bright side, I only used one picture, and didn't have a bill in the thousands, like some of the other people I spoke to.
Any blog post you have published, no matter when it was, is your responsibility. Everyone deserves to have their copyright honoured, but somehow bloggers seem stuck in a place that hasn't quite made up its mind on copyright.
Is your blog a potential time bomb? Will companies/people decide that they want to claim their images back from the blogging domain? Do you want to be someone who infringes somebody else's copyright? I know that I don't.
I am over my hiccup now...onwards and upwards. Lesson learnt.