Digital Decorum : Guidelines for those of us trying to Make it in a Digital World
Hi everyone! Today I wanted to post what could be the first in a series of blog tips & image tips. When I first started my blog & Instagram, I spent A LOT of time reading up on blog posts from people who had been in the business for a while, and one of the things that I thought was really helpful were the posts that went over the legalities surrounding a blog(and the use of images!) and so I wanted to do a quick roundup of some of those in case you or someone you know is working on their own blog!
Blogging- Legal Stuff
1. This is one that surprised me! If you want to set up an email list, you HAVE to include an address in the emails you send out. I personally don’t want any ol’ stranger to have my home address, so I’m going to be getting a P.O. box!
2. If you earn over $400 on your blog, you have to file taxes on them
3. Affiliate Links: If you’re writing a review of a product that a company has given to you for the purpose of reviewing, or if you have links to a product and are getting paid when a reader clicks on those links, you HAVE to have a disclosure statement in the post. Same applies to Instagram, if you post about a product/money/coupon you received, the FTC wants you to disclose it. A lot of times people will just include #ad at the end of the caption. The disclosure statement also needs to be placed somewhere other than the end of the blog post.
4. Don’t use images on the blog that are pulled directly from Pinterest or Google. What you can do is find websites that post free photos, or photos that you can purchase the right to use. One of my favorites is Unsplash, but you can find a great list of more places to find great images in this post by Layered Indulgence – 10 Places to Find Free and Styled Stock Photos for Bloggers... IvoryMix also has a Free Stock Image library available with SO MANY awesome images!
5. Have a clearly written privacy & disclosure policy posted for your readers if you have an email list, or if you work with sponsors, advertisers, or affiliate marketing! Any sponsored post has to have a disclosure posted in the actual post, but its good to have a more detailed version elsewhere on the site.
Images – Legal Use
My history with Digital Art
I double majored in undergrad in Art History & Digital Media, so I got to take a lot of cool graphic art classes & digital photography… all these classes really helped me get good at what I really loved – digital painting. So once I started Little Bleu Studio, I wanted to talk about that love of digital painting, and show some of my pieces, but then when I started researching all the legal blogging info, I discovered a whole new world of rules about image use!
1. My personal rule for making a digital painting – use more than one photo as the source, use photoshop(or some other program) to arrange the various images into a nice composition, then start painting.
Making paintings from a single photo was something that was a big no no in my digital painting classes. I loved this class, I learned SO MUCH, and my teacher was brilliant. Any composition had to have at least 5 different images for it to be acceptable, because if it was a real painting, it would require several different elements to make a creative, interesting, skilled composition.
2. Copyright Law – here's where i start writing about the technical rules for digital painting, ones that apply to commercial use of images.
a. NEVER work from photos that aren’t your own. Even if you think the original photographer won’t mind, working from your own photographs is part of the skill in digital paintings. Its illegal to work from copyrighted images.
b. For more definitions(like, Fair Use & Derivative Works) see The Informed Illustrator's Post on 10 Digital Art Copyright Definitions.
NEVER WORK FROM PHOTOS THAT AREN'T YOUR OWN
c. Fan Art: while you may have seen a ton of images of tv characters floating around Instagram, Pinterest, etc. Most of the time they either A) aren’t selling them, B) got permission to make the art, or C) are leaving themselves liable to receive a Cease & Desist letter OR have a lawsuit on their hands. For more on this, see The Informed Illustrator post mentioned above (link here)
3. The same rules can also apply to sports logos and branding. If you use them in paintings or images, you should look into licensing first. Using a team’s logo in an image for profit without permission isn’t okay & if they find out, you’ll end up with a cease & desist and potentially further legal action.
Thats all for this week! Do you have any blog or image use information you'd like to share? Let me know in the comments or email me at email@example.com
Thanks for reading! - xoxo, Lauren