Blogging 101 – Are You Stealing Photos?

by Alli

A while back, I shared a post on How to Blog Like A Pro in my Blogging 101 series. One of the points I shared is, “Never post a picture on your blog that you do not have permission to use.”  I felt like I needed to add to that info and that’s why I’m sharing Blogging 101 – Are You Stealing Photos?

Frankly, I’m still amazed at how many bloggers post photos that are not theirs. That’s why 99.9% of my photos are my own. If I don’t use my own, I pay to use them or have permission to use them. I listed several stock photo sites in the How to Blog Like A Pro article.

Are you innocently sharing photos that you no right to share? Find out all about it when you click the pic!

Recently, a blogger that I admire and have stalked followed for a while endured a very unpleasant experience. She’s a big-time blogger and I love everything she does.

This blogger is a pro, but when she first started blogging, she innocently shared a photo on her blog that was making the rounds on Facebook. The picture went along with a blog post and she thought nothing of sharing it. She did not claim it as her own. I think she even made references to how popular the photo was and how everyone was sharing it. The photo was everywhere!

Fast forward a few years and she receives a cease and desist letter from the attorney of the owner of that wildly popular, much-shared photo. She was also asked to pay a  large sum of money for restitution. She shared her experience in order to encourage other bloggers to go back and check their earlier posts to be sure they haven’t used a photo that they didn’t have the rights to use.

Helpful Hint: You can’t just see a photo you like, save the image and place it on your blog.

In my must-read How to Blog Like a Pro article, I also shared the link to the site, TinEye. You can go to TinEye and upload an image URL and do a reverse image search. It will show you where the image came from, how it is being used, if modified versions of the image exist and if there is a higher resolution version.  

Bottom line:  You can also see if any of your photos have been stolen from your site!  And other sites can see if you’ve stolen pics from theirs!

When I first started blogging, I was strolling through Pinterest one day and saw a photo I had taken and it wasn’t something pinned from my website. I clicked on the MY photo and it took me to a website that had stolen my pic and was using it as theirs. Because I was new to blogging, instead of outraged, I was a little flattered. I chose to let that one go. Now, I would nicely ask them to remove it.

Also, just because you site the source of your photo, doesn’t make it legal to use, unless it is public domain and/or Creative Commons-licensed content.

Please, check your site and be sure you are only sharing photos that you have the right to share.  Most bloggers are not trying to steal photos. They simply don’t know.

Blogging 101 - Stop Stealing Photos

Have you ever had someone steal your content/photos? How did you handle it?

More Blogging 101:

How to Thank Someone for Retweets

Top 10 Things I’ve Learned About Blogging

3 Easy Steps to Add Rich Pins

Easy Steps to Add Images to Your Sidebar

3 Reasons I Reply to Comments

Disclosure: I am not an attorney. I just think I am. Everything I’ve learned about stealing photos has come from doing what I do best – research. 🙂 



LisaLDN February 16, 2016 - 5:12 am

This is so important, and such a great post! I think all bloggers need to be reminded of this once in a while, as it really can be a big issue. (And I *am* a lawyer, and completely agree with you!) Thanks for bringing this up 🙂

Alli February 16, 2016 - 6:31 am

I see it every day – bloggers using photos from big-name sites and citing the source. I’m sure that most sites will let that slide, but there’s always that one that comes back to bite you in the butt. If I don’t have permission, I don’t do it.

Heather lawrence February 16, 2016 - 9:04 am

I see it all the time too! I normally either take my own photos, which has pushed me to learn how to take better pictures or I purchase them as well. I would rather spend a couple of extra bucks then end up in an nightmare!

Alli February 16, 2016 - 10:20 am

The same here! I take most of my own photos and I’ve taken several photo classes. I can tell a world of difference in those first photos I took compared to now. It’s just not worth getting sued over.

Jenn @ EngineerMommy February 16, 2016 - 10:49 am

This is a great reminder about the copyright issues of digital photos! When I first started blogging, I had no idea about this. I would say that probably the majority of bloggers nowadays don’t know how serious this is!

Alli February 16, 2016 - 8:27 pm

I had no clue about copyright issues when I first started blogging, either. I’m so glad I learned early.

Liz Mays February 16, 2016 - 12:38 pm

This is great info. This is such an easy mistake to make when you’re starting out. It’s worth the time to go through old posts and make sure your images are all okay.

Jessica (Savory Experiments) February 16, 2016 - 1:36 pm

This is a great post! About a year after I starting blogging I took down an image that I had very innocently used about how to braid. I had no idea at the time how horrible it was to do that. Now I wonder about photos going around on FB and the proper usage, for instance my readers LOVE a “which kitchen would you choose” and they aren’t my photos, I have no idea where they came from, are those ok to share? Makes me nervous!

Alli February 16, 2016 - 8:25 pm

It makes me nervous, too! I read the following on a blog post by I Am Baker (, “It’s up to YOU to make sure that the image you have shared on your facebook page is within legal requirements for fair use. If you share an image that does not belong to you, you are liable. It doesn’t matter if you shared it from a page that shared it a zillion times, when it ends up on your wall that responsibility now lies with you.”

I don’t think most people care if we share their photos on FB, BUT there’s always that one time . . . I’ve started being very careful about what I share on my page.

Travel Blogger February 16, 2016 - 1:58 pm

So helpful! So many people just don’t realize that they aren’t allowed to use it if they don’t have permission. This is a great wake up call.

Alli February 16, 2016 - 8:20 pm

So true! I see it every day by bloggers and most of them are completely innocent and not intentionally stealing photos. Too bad that not knowing is not an excuse.

Mimi Green February 16, 2016 - 4:04 pm

This is indeed a lesson that needs to be shared repeatedly. I went back and edited my old post when I learned that Google images were not my personal library.

Thankfully I did so before it was an issue.

Michelle F February 16, 2016 - 4:23 pm

I have heard that happen to a few bloggers I know to. I try to always watermark mines especially when it is an image of my daughter.

Alli February 16, 2016 - 8:18 pm

At one time I watermarked all my photos, but I’m so lazy when it comes to that. I guess I should make an effort.

aaronica @ the crunchy mommy February 16, 2016 - 6:41 pm

i think i know the blogger you’re referencing–i read her story too. the photos in blogging are such a crazy game. i’m working on making my own photos as well!

Miles L. February 16, 2016 - 8:39 pm

TinEye sounds like a great program. I’m also being careful about using photos online and giving credit to whom it is due.

Alli February 17, 2016 - 4:24 pm

It’s sad that even giving credit or citing the source (unless you have permission to use them) does not protect us.

ricci February 16, 2016 - 8:56 pm

I read a post similar to this several years ago and went through my whole blog and took down pics I had accidentally borrowed from Google and Pinterest, even if I had given credit. I now take all of my own pics or I get them from stock photography sites. It’s so scary that this can happen!!

ashley February 16, 2016 - 9:51 pm

I’ve never had anyone steal my photos but I’ve always been scared that someone would. I only use photos I’ve taken myself or stock photos I have full rights to.

Chris Hoov February 17, 2016 - 2:29 am

I’ve never ever stole any pics from there and never had anyone steal my photos, I think that stealing photos have legal rules. Sometimes when I need good pic, I pick photo from site that offering free pics.

April Decheine February 17, 2016 - 8:37 am

Good to know! I may take a look on some of my photos, the thing is, for whatever reasons, like if I see my photo in a roundup, it does not bother me if they link back to my site.

Alli February 17, 2016 - 4:21 pm

It doesn’t bother most bloggers as long as they do link back to the blogger’s site. It’s never bothered me, either. Who would say no to free traffic? But the fact that you can be sued for it makes me a little nervous. I always get permission before I add another blogger’s photo and link back.

Shirley Wood February 17, 2016 - 3:50 pm

Oh my goodness, when I look back on how dumb I was when I first started blogging. Thankfully I am able to learn from other people’s mistakes. I love saving pics I’ve made all year long because you never know when one will work perfect for a post. I’ve never come across any of my pics being used, not sure what I’d say if I did. I don’t ever mind having a photo used in a round up as long as it’s linked back, common practice.

Alli February 17, 2016 - 4:17 pm

I totally agree. It is a common practice for linkups and I have no problem with that, either. But even with that, it’s best to get permission first. I never include another blogger’s photo and link unless I have their permission or they’ve added it to a roundup thread knowing that it will be used for that purpose. I don’t know why people would get upset over that, but some do. I have a copyright statement in my footer stating the only way someone can use a photo is in a roundup with a link back to me. I’m amazed at bloggers who steal photos and the recipe and claim it as there’s. You can never be too careful, right?

Clara February 17, 2016 - 9:02 pm

I’m amazed at how many people steal photos. It’s something that will come back to bite you at some point.

Bites for Babies February 17, 2016 - 9:25 pm

I watermark all of my photos, although I’m not sure anyone wants to ‘steal’ mine! I definitely could use a crash course in photography 😉

Alli February 18, 2016 - 8:45 am

I’m too lazy to watermark.:) I had a plugin once upon a time that automatically added my watermark.

shelley February 24, 2016 - 10:59 pm

Instagram seems to be the Queen of photo stealing. people don’t think anything of using a brand’s photo or another blogger’s pic and not crediting them.


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