I know everything looks empty here, and there's a reason for that. I've kind of been forced into starting fresh.
A copyright troll is trying to extort money from me for using an image on my blog that I embedded from Houzz. They claim, although they have provided no proof, that they own the image and that I have to pay them a licensing fee for the time it was on my blog. Well, according to terms of usage, which is agreed to by everyone who participates and posts to Houzz, images posted to their site are allowed to be used on the web without compensation, which means they waived being able to be compensated for the use of that image when they posted it to Houzz. And believe me, I read those terms of usage over and over to make sure I understood them.
|From my recent trip to the Bahamas|
After so research, I found out these 'copyright trolls' make quite a bit of money by seeding the internet with pictures and then pouncing on unsuspecting bloggers who have used the images in good faith...which is what I did when I used the image from Houzz. Unfortunately, they can make life miserable for a blogger even when the blogger hasn't done anything wrong, and they have put quite a few small business out of business by their unscrupulous means of making money. The particular one that contacted me operates under no less than six different names, all doing the same thing, from the same address--something that legitimate companies with good reputations don't have to do.
That said, although I'm quite certain that I didn't do anything wrong, I've decided to start fresh with a new blog that does not contain any pictures from sources other than myself and from people I have personally received permission to use or that are verifiably public domain. I'm just not willing to give the copyright trolls any more opportunity to make my life difficult, which is the reason for the fresh start.
Truth be told, I'm now kind of excited to be starting fresh. I plan to recreate many of the posts I had on my old blog, but with a fresh new take on them. I'll also be looking at adding some new features to the blog and to my website.
Sometimes things happen for a reason. I think this happened to me to help jump start my creativity and my business. I can look at it as a negative or a positive, and I'm choosing to make it a positive.
Let me know if there are any features you like to see, and wish me luck!!
UPDATE: Houzz contacted the company that accused me of copyright infringement and asked that they follow the terms of agreement and procedures set out in those terms in regards to copyright infringement. Basically, they told the company I shouldn't have been the one contacted, so I feel much better.
MORE INFO: Laurel Bern had the same thing happen to her. She wrote a wonderful post about her situation and goes into how the Fair Use provision of Copyright Law applies to most Bloggers... Of course, Fair Use is decided on a case by case basis, which can make it difficult. Know this, most of the Copyright Troll will not actually go to the extent of actually suing you if they contact you. They are banking on the chance that you will just pay what they ask, even though they don't provide any proof that their claim in valid. Unless you are sued and get a letter from a real judge from a court of law, you do not have to pay.
UPDATE: Since it was my use of an image that caused me to start a new blog, I wanted to share this graphic I found regarding whether an image can be used or not. It's very informative, but not exhaustive in covering every situation. It is best to always ask permission, but there are some instances when fair use does qualify the use of an image. It should also be noted that if the image is used on a blog or a website used to earn income, that does not automatically disqualify fair use. I still stand by my contention that my use of the photo that I was contacted about did fall in the boundaries of Fair Use, as I was using it as a teaching/information aid, and not using it to promote my own services or work.
|Great infographic from the Visual Communication Guy|
Update: I was contacted by a reader who shared another wonderful reference for copyright law. This one includes information about UK copyright laws, which are different than here in the United States. It's definitely worth checking out. It's call The Ultimate Student Guide to Images.