Back in the early 1990s when I started Just Marry!, the Internet wasn’t being used by the general public. Businesses didn’t have websites; there was no Facebook or Twitter. I promoted my business with print brochures and print advertising, which required writing copy, hiring a graphic artist, and either purchasing stock photos or going to one of my photographer-friends and asking if I could use one of their images.
Now with a simple right-click and “save as,” you can have beautiful photos at your fingertips for use on your website, social networking sites and brochures, and getting text is as simple as a copy and paste. Taking those shortcuts sure is easy, but they are illegal and unethical, and there is simple technology available (and it’s free) that will ensure that you get caught.
Over the past couple of years, I have heard from several colleagues about other wedding vendors taking photos and text from their websites and blogs without authorization or giving credit. In a few instances, the wedding vendor even took credit for designs they stole. This phenomenon seems to be picking up steam. In the past two days, I’ve heard from two more high profile-wedding professionals, one of whom had several of her designs stolen and published on someone’s Facebook page, and the other had their stolen image used in an ad. Both of the perpetrators were caught and punished. When the designer found her images on that Facebook page, she alerted some of her colleagues, who subsequently vilified the perpetrator on her fan page. The other was billed $1,000.00 for the image and ordered to take it down.
Bottom line, if you want to use someone else’s work because you really like it and you want to discuss it on your blog, make sure to get permission and give proper credit. If you want to use someone else’s work because you are just starting out and you want an instant portfolio, DON’T DO IT. You will ruin your reputation before you even get started.
By the way, I purchased the image for this post at istockphoto.com.