Did you go to QuiltCon? Did you post a lot of photos of the exciting quilts? Did you give credit to the makers?
I’ve seen a lot of blog posts recently that didn’t give credit where credit was due. In fact, it’s a regular thing, but QuiltCon gave photo ops that people rarely enjoy, and they took full advantage of it.
Unfortunately, many of those photographers took advantage of the quilters by not including credits. That’s sort of like copying someone’s work on a test. You get points for stuff you didn’t actually do. It is easy to take one more photo with the name of the quilter, and then include the name in the quilt’s caption. I expect every quilter would want that courtesy. Not only are there ethical issues, there are also copyright concerns when you use someone else’s work for your own benefit.
Another way bloggers cheat — use material without giving credit — is when posting photos of historical quilts. Do you know who owns the quilt? Do you know who made it? Do you know who took the photo? If so, give credit. If not, you shouldn’t use it. For example, there is a quilt owned by the Dallas Museum of Art called “Prosperity Is Just Around the Corner.” I would LOVE to use an image of that quilt. However, I can’t find a way to do so correctly, so I won’t.
In the U.S. we are able to use federally-owned photos without concern for copyright. These would include photos shown on the Smithsonian site, for example. However, it’s still good form to link back to the source. And again, if there is information about the maker of the quilt, you should note it.
To find other images that don’t have copyright restrictions, you can use Creative Commons. Enter your search term and specify whether you intend to modify the image or not. You can also find music, videos, and other resources there.
If you like to use other bloggers’ writing or photos, please make sure you acknowledge them correctly, too. An easy way to start is by hyperlinking back to the blog of origin. Use their name or their blog name in your reference. If you quote their words, use quotation marks or blockquoting. Before you do, though, make sure the blogger hasn’t put copyright restrictions on use. For example, my copyright notice says
© 2013-2015 Melanie J. McNeil All materials on this site are the property of Melanie J. McNeil, unless given specific credit elsewhere. You may link to these articles but may not use the photographs, illustrations, or text without express written permission.
What does that mean relative to the cheat sheet I built for my Economy Blocks post? The cheat sheet is linked in dozens of Pinterest pages. The CHEAT SHEET is an illustration. People are using it without my permission. The majority likely link back to the post directly. Frankly I think that’s a grey area, and I’m ambivalent about it. What is NOT okay is the scrapers who use it, without links (and YES I have seen this), to drive traffic to their own advertising sites. My work is valuable to them — they earn money off of it. That is not just unethical, it’s illegal.
Linking is a good way to give credit for other quotes, data, or information you find at other sites, whether a blog site or not. If you find information about the dollar value of quilt fabric sales in your town and want to use it, show us the source. If you include a chart you didn’t create, show us the source. If the quilt you are showing off was designed by someone else, tell us who, and if the designer has a website, give us a link.
I’ll be the first to admit, sometimes I miss in giving appropriate credit. My best intentions occasionally aren’t realized. But I will never intentionally use someone else’s work without paying them their due. To tell you the truth, that’s one of the reasons I have always designed my own quilts. I don’t want to present someone else’s ideas as my own.
You can get more great information about giving credit at HubSpot Blogs. Their post on “How Not to Steal People’s Content on the Web” includes a lot more detail than I have. Please take a look.
When I taught, I occasionally had to remind students that part of their job was to not give me reason to suspect them of cheating. I’ve seen a lot of cheating with photos recently. I hope it’s a long time before I see it again. Sadly, I suspect it won’t be, as many people simply haven’t thought through the issue of using other people’s work without giving credit. To all of them I’d like to say, don’t get caught cheating. In fact, don’t cheat.