Since June of last year I’ve had a new blogging home.
My new blog is called Dancing with Sunflowers, which you’ll find at http://janiceheppenstall.com/blog
If you still have this old blog bookmarked or on your blogroll but you’d like to keep on reading my posts please update.
Hope to see you soon!
Finally, my new blog is ready!
It has taken much longer than expected to set it up.
Thank you to everyone wh0 contacted me via comment and email to ask to be informed when it was all up and running. I’ll be writing to each of you to let you know. For everyone else, here are the links:
The blog’s homepage: Dancing with Sunflowers
The first post: entitled, rather predictably, Welcome to my new blog!
Looking forward to seeing you soon!
Dear friends and other readers who have come here regularly without me knowing who you are …
After much serious thought, I’ve decided that the time has come for me to close down Postcards from Wildwood and to leave WordPress.
Leaving WordPress saddens me, firstly because I’ve found the support team to be fantastic, but also because I know how things work here. With just a couple of things that, in an ideal world I could have tweaked, my blogging experience with WordPress has been truly enjoyable. However, not having control over who gets to use my photos has become an issue that I simply cannot resolve here. I won’t go into details, because my recent post about Pinterest, and the discussion following on from that in the comments sets out the main sticking points. What I will add is that within the past week I worked out how to use Google Image Search and ran just three of my images through it. What I found was shocking. The entire set of twelve images from one of my tutorials had been lifted and used with another blog’s watermark superimposed (very badly) on top of mine. Other images had been lifted, the watermarks cropped off, and they were being used to lure people to websites that either seemed to have no purpose or that had a distinctly unpleasant purpose. Bearing in mind that ‘pinners’ had even started to remove family photos from my blog – even after I added a personal caption directly to each of those images to the effect that this was a personal family image and I would not give permission for it to be used on any other blog or website – quite simply the thought that these, too, may have found their way on to sites such as the ones I encountered broke my heart. I decided not to explore further. All I will say is this: if you decide to give the Google Image Search a go with your own images, prepare yourself for what you may discover.
For a while, this was going to be The End of my foray into blogging. But I changed my mind. Instead, I will be starting a new blog on a different blogging platform, and I hope to have this up and running before the end of the month. I hope that those of you who have enjoyed Postcards from Wildwood will want to join me in my new virtual home. There’ll be a slightly different spin on the posts, but they will still be based around my creative activities. That’s the plan, anyway!
When I’m ready to go ‘live’ I’ll put one more post up here, directing you to the new location. But if you want to be sure to know where I’m going, please let me know and I’ll send you an email when the first post is up. In fact that first post is already written – but there’s a bit of setting up to be done and learning how things work with the new blogging platform before I can click on the Publish button.
You can leave a message in the comments here – I will see your email address, so no need to say more than ‘Yes, let me know!’ Or if we’re already in touch you can of course just send me an email.
Whether you decide to come with me to the new blog or not, I want to take this opportunity to thank all my blog friends and those readers who have preferred to be anonymous for spending some moments of the past four years with me. I wish all of you happiness, success and a wonderful life.
Apologies for posting out of my ‘advertised’ schedule! After my last post I said I’d be doing a follow-up about the impact of copyright infringement on the value of our work. That will be coming … it’s just that events have moved on apace.
As intimated in my last post, I was worried about the impact of my images appearing on Pinterest – far from sight of the Copyright Notice that you can see over there in my sidebar. When I first realised my images were appearing on Pinterest I was flattered that people liked my stuff enough to put it there, and I thought it might lead a few more interested readers to my blog. Even so, I decided to join Pinterest myself, just so I could keep an eye on things and if necessary comment on what was being said about my work. I even did a little ‘pinning’ myself. I was cautious about copyright, though. The first thing I did was prevent my pages from showing up in Google searches: who am I to tout other people’s images around the world?! The next thing was that I had a rule of treating images I pinned as a means of directing viewers to the rightful owner. Pinterest actually does this anyway – every image is linked to the website from where it was taken – but the images I pinned were not just pictures I liked; they were usually linked to tutorials and ‘how to’s’. What I was saying was ‘Go here, there’s a really good tutorial on xxx.’ Whilst I was undoubtedly ‘pinning’ other people’s images, what I was doing really was recommending others to visit their blogs. Or so I thought.
It wasn’t until yesterday that I actually read the Pinterest Terms of Service. This is what I found:
‘If you post your content on Pinterest, it still belongs to you but […] You grant Pinterest and its users a non-exclusive, royalty-free, transferable, sublicensable, worldwide license to use, store, display, reproduce, re-pin, modify, create derivative works, perform, and distribute your User Content on Pinterest’
The problem is that most people don’t ‘pin’ their own stuff; they post someone else’s. Pinterest go on to say:
‘Pinterest respects the rights of third party creators and content owners, and expects you to do the same. You therefore agree not to post any User Content that violates any law or infringes the rights of any third party.’
In other words, Pinterest absolve themselves of any blame if any user posts images on the site without the permission of the rightful owner. What’s more, even if any images are removed at the request of the rightful owner, Pinterest may retain them ‘for a commercially reasonable period of time for backup, archival, or audit purposes. Furthermore, Pinterest and its users may retain and continue to use, store, display, reproduce, re-pin, modify, create derivative works, perform, and distribute any of your User Content that other users have stored or shared through Pinterest.’
Effectively, then, if I ‘pin’ your images, I am giving away rights that are simply not mine to give, and that you will not be able to get back, and I am very worried about having done this. Equally, if you ‘pin’ mine, you’re effectively converting my ‘All Rights Reserved’ Copyright Notice into a Creative Commons Licence. To make it absolutely clear: it’s not the sharing of my work that bothers me, provided this is done with my permission and with appropriate copyright statements attached; it is the nature of the contract that anyone who posts images on Pinterest are making with that company in respect of my work that is my cause for concern. And this same concern is why I’ve now deleted the pinboards I had created.
Pinterest say you can prevent people from ‘pinning’ from your website, but the burden of doing this rests with the website owner. They publish a code that you can paste into any page. Should anyone try to ‘pin’, a notice pops up to the effect that this website doesn’t allow it. Unfortunately this code doesn’t work on WordPress.com blogs, and at the present time WordPress haven’t come up with a widget of their own that can be used instead. I have now asked them to do this.
In the meantime, please don’t ‘pin’ any images from my blog.
If you have already ‘pinned’ I understand absolutely that you did so for entirely honourable reasons, but please remove my images from Pinterest. I’ve already started writing to each person who has pinned, and at least one person has already removed my image – Thank You! Unfortunately, since I was pasting the same words for each request, the Pinterest robots stepped in and prevented further actions on the basis that I was a suspected spammer! Ye gods!!!
Finally, if you have a WordPress.com blog, and if you’re concerned about this issue, please join me in asking WordPress to develop a widget that those of us who don’t want to be ‘pinned’ can use to prevent it. I’ve already written to the excellent WordPress Support team about this, and I’ve also started a thread on the WordPress Forum. I won’t post a link, since this is only available to WordPress members, but here’s how to find it:
- Go to your WordPress.com dashboard
- Scroll down to the bottom
- Click on Forums
- Enter the word ‘Pinterest’ in the search box and hopefully you’ll find my post.
Yours, really, genuinely at the end of my tether…
(I promise … next time I post it will be nice pictures of bunny rabbits or some such!)
Recently Kelley did a post warning bloggers against using photos found on the Internet to illustrate their posts. She was prompted to do so after reading Roni Loren’s blog. Writer / blogger Roni was recently sued for using a photo. Her argument that she had removed the photo in question immediately when asked to do so, that she had not fully understood the law, and that she had made no financial gain from using the image didn’t sway the Court: Roni was landed with costs as well as a hefty compensation payment to the photographer. Legally, of course, the judgement was right, although I think the outcome was harsh. Roni admits she was in the wrong, and in her post she outlines the events and the legal situation, and gives excellent advice that we would all do well to follow.
I’m drawing this to all your attention now because Roni has been generous enough to allow us all to learn from her expensive mistake. Although all the photos I use here are my own, since reading Roni’s post I’ve thought more carefully about the issue of copyright infringement and made a few changes, both in terms of what I include that could possibly be construed as copyright infringement, and what I’m prepared to allow others to use.
This issue of digital image theft, more properly called copyright infringement, has been a cause of concern for me since the early days of blogging. For those who don’t know, we bloggers receive a daily overview of blog statistics: how many visitors, what posts they looked at, and so on. If we care to follow these stats, we can even see the search terms visitors used if they reached us via a search engine. Consequently, I know that far more people come to my blog to swipe photos than come actually to connect with me, and this can be disheartening. I even know which photos are most likely to be taken.
Armed with this knowledge I’ve done several things. I learned how to put a watermark on my images, and I’ve been doing this for every photo since November 2009. I’ve placed a copyright notice in a prominent position on my sidebar, and additional copyright notices within the posts where I know theft of my photos is most likely. The My Photos page and the Contact Me page in the upper menu bar provide quick and easy ways for people to get in touch if they want permission to use a photo. And sometimes people do this. I truly love the ‘collaborations’ that come about when someone asks if they can use a photo for a particular reason, or when someone tells me something I did has inspired them to do a piece of artwork, and they’d like my permission to use it. I’ve never yet refused – and it’s great when they send me a copy of what they did afterwards. It’s just that I want to retain control over who uses my work. And if someone wants to use one of my photos for commercial (website, advertising, packaging) purposes, then it’s only right that I should benefit from this too, so I’ve also posted a list of terms and very reasonable fees for their use.
As a matter of fact I have a law degree and I used to teach the law, so although the impact of the Internet on copyright was not even a footnote on the agenda when I was active in the field, I do understand the broad issues and the legal context. The problem is, of course, that the law is playing catch-up. Technology changes far faster than the law can; the Internet is by definition international, requiring a cross-border response to copyright issues; and any legislation will inevitably have loopholes which in the normal course of the workings of the law are closed – as Roni Loren has found to her cost – by legal actions in the courts. My copyright notice, for example, used to give permission for non-commercial use of my photos provided that full and clear credit was given to me, and with a link back to this blog. So anyone could take them for their blog without asking, right? Right … but what, exactly, is a blog? I recently came across the image at the top of this post, photographed by me in 2009, used on a ‘blog’ that’s actually part of a commercial website for a home inspection company in Canada. In other words, it’s being used to promote their services… And I have changed my copyright notice!
As Kelley points out, Pinterest is a particular problem. I joined just so I could keep track of what was happening to the photos ‘pinned’ from my blog. Strictly speaking, my copyright notice now forbids ‘pinning’ my photos without my permission, but once a photo is on Pinterest my copyright notice might just as well not exist. When I first realised my work had been posted on Pinterest I thought it would be a good way of attracting possible new readers to my blog. But the stats don’t lie – and it’s a rare day that I receive a visitor via one of my images on Pinterest. I have, however, seen comments congratulating the person who ‘pinned’ my photo for the great image! Other needle artists report they have seen their original designs and painstaking work ‘pinned’ with comments like ‘Copy this’ and ‘Even I could do that!’ Logically, Pinterest would seem to fly in the face of everything we know about copyright infringement.
And even without the complicating factor of Pinterest, I have actually seen my work used for commercial purposes (for a digital download music track) with the watermark cropped off!
The problem is that as bloggers we have no teeth! Roni was sued by a professional photographer who had the time to surf the Internet looking for his photos – which most of us don’t; and the finances to bring the legal action – which, again, since blogging is a hobby for most of us, we can’t back what we do with that kind of investment.
So I’d love to know – Have you come across your work in unauthorised places? What actions have you taken against theft of your stuff? And how do you all feel about this? In my next post I’m going to continue this theme with a look at what this digital age means for the value of our work. And after that, hopefully I’ll feel like I’ve got it all off my chest!
This isn’t the sort of thing I normally put on my blog. But if it helps to reunite Madeleine McCann with her parents then I’d like to do my part. Please read the following, watch the short video and then pass it on via your own blog, email or other online community. Thank you.
The UK’s Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) has released an online message aimed at reaching someone who knows more about Madeleine’s disappearance. Madeleine disappeared in May 2007, while on holiday with her family in Portugal. Madeleine is now six years old.
CEOP believes there is somebody who knows who is involved in the disappearance and hope that, by making this viral message, that person will finally come forward. CEOP are hoping the video will reach a relative, friend, work colleague or neighbour of someone involved in Madeleine’s disappearance. Jim Gamble, head of the UK’s CEOP Centre explains:
“Today we want to deliver a message to that person and we’re asking everyone who goes online to help us. We want the message to become so widespread that it becomes just one click from any Madeleine search as a constant reminder to that person that it is never too late to do the right thing – that it is never too late for that person to redeem themselves.
“So if you are a parent or carer, a student or member of the public who is a social networker, blogger or emailer, or if you run any type of online environment, big or small please look at the film today, link to it, share it with your friends and post it in the online communities you occupy.
“Do everything you can to spread it around the online world. We want to make it omnipresent so that the person we are trying to reach sees it and is prompted to do the right thing.”
I don’t remember my first day at school, but it probably felt something like the way I feel now. For a start I don’t know anyone. Or that’s not strictly true, because for the last few months while I’ve been thinking about starting my own blog I’ve been ‘lurking’, getting to know some of you through your blogs and working out what I like and what I don’t – in other words, what I’d like my own blog to look like. So it isn’t true to say I don’t know anyone. But definitely, no one knows me!
Then there’s the issue about having any sort of idea about how to do this. And I don’t! So this first entry will be short and sweet just so I can prove to myself I can do it…