protect yourself guest bloggers info carnivore Are Guest Bloggers flocking to post on your popular blog? Guest Blogging is an excellent way to add posts to your blog and expand your reader base. I’m not going to get into all the details of why you should be a guest blogger, and why you should publish guest posts – there are enough articles about that available (take a look for yourself!) πŸ™‚

Instead I wanted to offer a word of caution and advice. You must protect yourself and your blog, and DO NOT allow guest bloggers to add their own images to their submissions. While I’m at it, if you are a blogger you need to be aware of the potential consequences of using copyrighted images on your blog.

Protect Yourself: Don’t Let Guest Bloggers Upload Their Own Images

Reason #1 You never know where guest bloggers got their image.

A lot of bloggers don’t do anything more than a google image search and grab the first picture that catches their eye. I know, I’m guilty of doing this (in the past!). The bad news is that the image is definitely owned by someone (though they may not have registered their copyright).

Fish & Associates in California was asked “Can the owner of a copyrighted picture sue a blog for using it without permission?” Their response (which technically is based around the laws of the state of California, but would likely be very similar everywhere else), states “Infringement is infringement. In general, if you have no permission to use the image, then such use is infringement. There is a “fair use” defense, but that very well may not apply. On the other hand, from a practical standpoint you might be able to keep using the image indefinitely. Although copyright attaches when an author reduces an original work to a tangible medium of expression, (i.e., paper, or computer image), the copyright owner cannot sue on that copyright until the copyright is registered with the copyright office. Generally, if the infringement commenced before the date of registration, the only remedies are are (1) injunctive relief (i.e., the infringer is told to stop) and (2) actual damages (which are probably very to prove). For such infringement, the really strong remedies of statutory damages and attorneys fees are not available.”

Admittedly I do think the likelihood of a lawsuit is exceptionally low, I wouldn’t personally want to risk putting myself in a situation where I could be confronted for using someones copyrighted image. Do the right thing. Finding images that are legal and free to use may require a bit more work than a simple google search, but ultimately you’ll find higher quality images and have a greater peace of mind.

Reason #2 You need to have control over the flow and visual appearance of your blog

Your blog needs to flow, and be visually appealing. You are the designer of your blog, as such you should have total control over its content. In the same way you wouldn’t publish an inferior quality blog post, you can’t just publish any image. If you’re investing time in quality written content, you should also be paying close attention to the visual quality of your content. Namely, the images you are using. Do they catch the eye? Are they well placed, and do they flow with the rest of your blog?

High Quality Royalty Free LEGAL images for your blog

The best resource I’ve found on the web for quality royalty free images is freedigitalphotos.net. For the vast majority of their images you simply insert a link crediting the author at the bottom of your article. There are options to purchase the image at a higher resolution with no need to link back, but for the majority of bloggers web sized images are perfect for blog posts, and a link back is not a big deal at all. Perhaps you can tell your guest bloggers that if they want to pick their own image this is the resource you’ll accept images from.

If you’re wanting more information on the copyright laws surrounding images you can read this post on eHow.

Image Credit: graur razvan ionut / FreeDigitalPhotos.net  

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So protect yourself and tell your potential guest bloggers that you’ll be supplying the image for the post. They should be able to understand this. If they do want to supply an image, make sure you check the source, and verfiy whether or not the owner of the image needs a link back. Ultimately your readers, and your guest bloggers will thank you!