Caught Cheating…

Did you go to QuiltCon? Did you post a lot of photos of the exciting quilts? Did you give credit to the makers?

Huh.

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.

 

 

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28 thoughts on “Caught Cheating…

  1. katechiconi

    Amen. Very good points, well explained. Sadly, most people just don’t care about doing the right thing, and I’m sure we’ll continue to see uncredited images and text used freely. There’s a common misconception that just because something is in the public domain, it automatically gives you the right to use or abuse it. Furthermore, people who wouldn’t mess with a large corporation’s intellectual property feel it’s OK to do so with an individual, perhaps because they perceive that individual as relatively powerless to respond.

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    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Powerless, indeed. That’s how I feel regarding the Pinterest issue. How do you fight that? Pinterest will look into complaints and shut down users. But *I* don’t want to be on Pinterest, patrolling the dark alleys to find cheaters. That is not how I want to spend my time and my power.

      “Public domain” is a legal term, likely means different things in different places. I don’t think what I post here is public domain. In the US even if you don’t file copyright documentation, you have ownership over your own work, and it’s not in the public domain until you no longer own it. And that’s where we get in the concerns for historical writing and images of antiques. Just because it’s old, doesn’t mean you get to be the new owner! As you can tell, I could go on a serious rant here. Tried not to take too bitchy/preachy of tone in the post but not sure how successful I was. 🙂

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      1. katechiconi

        Neither bitchy nor preachy! One blogger I know who loathes Pinterest for the reasons you state, puts a big ‘No Pinning’ button on her blog. The other thing I suppose one could do is watermark all images with a ‘No Pinning’ image, so that if anyone does pin it, it’s immediately clear they’ve done the wrong thing…
        I’m not clear myself about the meaning of public domain here, but find that most people assume that if it has been published, it’s ‘out there’ and therefore available for their use/abuse.

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  2. Steve Gingold

    I am not surprised to read this. Many photographers have their work grabbed off the internet and posted by folks who claim it for their own. Some even go so far as to remove copyright imprints when near a margin. Although they may only be doing it for their egos and make no sales, they can still be liable.

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      1. Steve Gingold

        I have had a few things used without permission, but for reasons that made it hard for me to be angry. The only one I recall was a teacher who assigned it to her students as something to practice color mixing. I contacted and told her I would appreciate being asked first and she apologized. There might be other examples, but so far it hasn’t been much.
        One can use Google to search for your images…in Google Images… but it is tedious to search an image at a time, so I haven’t really been aggressive about it. Maybe I should.

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        1. Melanie McNeil Post author

          That’s the power issue, though. Do you want to spend your time and energy (and emotional product) on a negative, or would you rather keep spending your time, energy, emotion (power components) on positive. I’m trying to choose positive, whenever possible. It isn’t always, but I’m better…

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  3. Thread crazy

    Well stated Melanie and I guess I’m not surprised by the photographers not giving proper credit to the quilters. How would they like it if someone didn’t give them credit for their work? Not good I’m sure. With regards to Public Domain I do believe most individuals think if it’s on the internet, they can copy and use whatever they wish. What a shame that we have to take extra steps to ensure our photos and work are not copied and reused.

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    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      In fact I’ve been reading more and am not sure even showing credit to the quilter is sufficient, from a legal standpoint. So while I’ll be even more careful, I’ll leave other people’s credit (and possible legal) problems to them.

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  4. allisonreidnem

    Thanks for having a restrained but forceful session on the soapbox! As a newcomer to blogging I’m sure I’ve been unintentionally guilty of some of the above. I’ve been working from the viewpoint that when I reference other people’s work and create a link, that hopefully brings more blog readers their way, thinking along the line I’m kinda part of a friendly networking group, but perhaps this is a bit niave? Likewise with Pinterest, I’ve just used it as a way of storing things that interest me and not as a way of advertising myself except on a board specifically titled ‘things I have made’. Whatever the legal whys and wherefores, It is courtesy to name and link to the designer/crafter/writer/photographer. Some people would welcome any such mention seeing it as ‘free advertising’ but I agree that we should all be aware of the distress and loss of income that can be caused by using someone elses work for our own benefit.

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    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      The legal issues are complex and I can’t pretend to understand what is a violation or not. I’ve read some of it, and … WOW. But just as a matter of doing the right thing, I think all of us (me included) need to be more careful. Thanks.

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  5. snarkyquilter

    It’s a good time, post QuiltCon, to remind people about giving credit where it’s due. While I think most of the lapses are due to thoughtlessness, some are indeed thefts. On Google images you can filter your search by type of “usage rights” under “search tools” to find images that can be legally used. Pinterest is another story. Sometimes photos are misattributed three or four steps back, so the original source is lost. I love using Pinterest but I fear many users have no idea about copyright issues. As for historical quilts, a friend who attended QuitCon was incensed that some modern quilters used historical blocks without noting the sources.

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    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      hmmm… I’m not sure I would worry about anyone using historical blocks. We aren’t all going to be designing new blocks for every quilt, and there is a tradition of blocks in place. So that’s a tough call, in my book. But if they use a particular designer’s pattern, historical or not, I think the designer should get a shout out.

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  6. KerryCan

    Twenty years ago, pre-internet, the issues around citing sources were so much more clear cut. I haven’t kept up, but have laws been articulated about such things as “pinning” without attribution? I admit to blithely pinning and re-pinning all kinds of stuff, without thinking too much about it. I try to use mostly my own photos on my blog, though, or to give clear info about where the pix came from. It would be helpful to have clearly-stated guidelines we could turn to . . .

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    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Yes, and I can’t pretend to understand the legal requirements. Even if we don’t know what those are, we should all understand giving credit as the right thing to do. Thanks.

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  7. Jane

    I did go through a period where I was naive enough to think that people could tell the difference between my work, and the work of professionals/prize winners. I didn’t ever claim it as my own, but I did post pics and talk about it, usually without getting proper approval or giving credit. Now my blog is ridiculously full of links and I try to only use images from other websites if I take them from the source and they have a watermark on them.

    It’s a terrible world though. One of my blog friends doesn’t watermark her work, and she found it on someone else’s blog with her original post, giving the impression that the blog owner had written it. She was fortunate enough to recognize some other works on the site, and enough people contacted the host that the blog was shut down. I just never saw the point in running a blog like that. Are people so desperate for validation? I’d so much rather people see and read about my not great quilts than pretend that I’m someone else.

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    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      I can’t imagine other people’s motivations. I think there is a wide range, but I assume that for most of us, we do not have negative intentions but are just careless/thoughtless. The internet makes it much easier to use others’ work, and harder to know the right ways to acknowledge it. It’s not like when I was in high school and had to cite every source for research papers. We had a prescribed format for that, and of course the sources were all either on paper or were primary source interviews. We didn’t include photos of anyone else’s work then because it wasn’t practical to do so. And there is no reliable enforcement mechanism now. The teacher isn’t grading our papers anymore, circling things in red. Instead it takes someone vigilantly searching for their own work used by others or accidentally stumbling on it. And the landscape is vast, so the chances of finding it are low.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

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  8. Oh Sew Tempting

    I had a complete photo tutorial “stolen” from my blog a couple of years ago. The culprit who is located on the other side of the world to me, not only “stole” all of my photos (26 I think) but then rewrote the instructions next to each photo (very badly) in their own language. I couldn’t actually believe what I was seeing on their blog. I politely asked them to remove my work from their site. They didn’t even reply. I then threatened to report them to the blog provider and informed them that they would gladly close down their blog if they didn’t remove my work within a few days. They removed my images and replaced them with a comment about me not wanting to share! Now I share my tutorials on my own web site with right click disabled. Yes they can still be copied but it takes a bit more work to do so. I do like to share but i also like the credit for the many hours I put in to my work. It isn’t much to ask is it? On the other hand, a lady actually emailed me just the other day to ask if she could BUY my pattern. I replied “No, it’s FREE. Enjoy!”

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    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      I’m sorry that happened to you. I can imagine how frustrating that would be, just having to deal with it, knowing someone stole from you. I’m glad it got resolved, even though not really in the best possible way.

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  9. farmquilter

    This is very frustrating. When I post a picture on my blog, I “ruin” the picture with a watermark across the picture – not on the edge where it could easily be removed. I hate to do it, but I’ve seen pictures that were taken from my blog posted elsewhere before I learned how to do this. There is a quilting group online that I belong to that doesn’t allow what they consider advertising on the pictures (yeah, my watermark), so I don’t post pictures of my quilting there – just add a link to my blog where the pictures can be seen. I know that when I take pictures at a quilt show I always make sure I get a shot of the maker’s name so I can credit them. When I forget to take that photo, that quilt is just for my own enjoyment and not shared (only happens when my camera battery runs out). I am going to post a link to this post on my facebook page and hope folks come and take the time to read this – it is important!

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    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      I’ve considered using watermarks but have not made a practice of it. It feels like one more barrier between me and my readers — me and getting things posted. Thanks for linking. I appreciate it.

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  10. Pingback: Guest Post: Giving Credit Where Credit is Due | Created by Bella

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