Hi everyone. Sorry, no recipe post today. I had a great one lined up, but then something happened yesterday that really irked the hell out of me, and I feel that I need to address the issue here. In part to maintain my own sanity (nothing soothes the soul quite like venting via blog post), but mostly in hopes of gaining valuable insight and perspective from you, my readers. All of you are blog followers. Many of you run blogs yourselves. I would love to know what you, as a reader, would expect to see (or not see) from blogs using the images or work of others. And if you run a blog yourself, what do you ask in terms of permissions and credit for use of your writing and/or photography. What do you consider fair (or simply common courtesy) when it comes to using the work of others, and what lengths do you go to when crediting sources? And what are your thoughts on the situation I detail below? Is my irritation justified, or am I being unreasonable?
Yesterday afternoon, I received a pingback on my Homemade Nutella post. I clicked on the pingback link, and it brought me to this post. There were two of my images, pulled from my site without prior permission. Not a big deal, in and of itself, as sites and fellow bloggers will often reuse my images in link love/round-up posts, and simply credit and link back to me. (I am always excited to be included in these sorts of posts, as it’s such an awesome way to give a shout out to sources of inspiration.) As I looked through the post, however, I found no reference to me, my site, or my original post anywhere. (Initially, the photo and recipe credit text did not appear at the bottom of the post. In their place was simply “via.”) I knew that there had to be a link back to my site somewhere since I’d gotten a pingback, and I finally discovered that the “v” in “via” linked back to my Nutella post, and the “a” linked to The Kitchn’s original post. Two of my images. A referral link on one, tiny letter. Seriously?
I told myself to take a beat and calmly think about the situation. But the more I thought about it, the more the whole thing just seemed really not cool. I looked around on the site for a contact email. Finding none, I left the following as a comment on the post:
Sorry to leave this as a comment, but I wasn’t able to find an email address to contact you directly. I’m happy that you found my nutella post and enjoyed it enough to reblog it. However, your decision to pull two of my photographs from my site without contacting me for permission or attributing credit for the photography anywhere in your post is rather upsetting. (And the fact that reference to my blog appears nowhere other than as a link on the letter “v” at the bottom of the post is a little bothersome as well.)
I would greatly appreciate it if you could at least add a photo credit to your post that states: “Photos courtesy of Carey Nershi at Reclaiming Provincial.” I put a lot of time and effort into my photography and writing, and I really enjoy being able to share it with others. Given that copyrights and intellectual property are still somewhat grey areas online nowadays (especially for those of us that run blogs), it’s important that we take it upon ourselves to go the extra mile and make sure we give credit where credit is due.
Thanks in advance,
And, being the neurotic person that I am (which is also evidenced by the fact that I kept a record of the comments I wrote), I checked back every five minutes for an update, and also hoped that maybe I’d receive a, “hey, sorry about that!” email or reply. After about half an hour, my comment (which had been awaiting moderation) was gone, and there was an update to the post. This update, however, removed the “via” (which contained the only link back to my post), and in its place was “Photos courtesy of Carey Nershi” followed by the “Recipe courtesy The Kitchn” text (with a link to The Kitchn’s recipe) that currently appears on the page.
At this point, I felt a little dumbfounded. Now, to be completely fair, the content/image use note at the bottom of my About page only requested that any republished materials be credited to “Carey Nershi” at the time (this has since been updated). So, technically, what she’d done was in line with this. But considering that in my comment I’d asked for a specific line of text to be added in, it really didn’t sit well. Additionally, I hadn’t expected that any reference to my blog would be removed entirely. I figured maybe that was the problem: I was expecting things that seemed like common sense/courtesy to me, but perhaps weren’t as obvious to someone who doesn’t publish their own unique content. So I figured I’d just risk coming across as a crazy person and write one more comment, with a more specific amendment request:
Thank you for amending the post, Charlotte. I would really appreciate it if you would also add “at Reclaiming Provincial” following my name as previously requested, and set a linkback on “Reclaiming Provincial” to either my site main page (www.reclaimingprovincial.com) or to the nutella post (http://www.
I checked the post again this morning, and it had been amended to the way it appears now. “Photos courtesy of Carey Nershi at ‘Reclaiming Provincial’,” with no link back to my site. At this point, the whole thing is just rather comical. There was actually a moment when I thought, “Wait a minute, maybe she doesn’t speak English! ……no, that can’t be right.” Clearly, it’s time to let the whole thing go. I’m credited by name and by blog name (albeit link-free), so that’s better. But I’m having a hard time getting over the fact that the whole situation just feels rather disrespectful. (Also a bit mystifying, as there’s evidence of her grasp of link backs in previous posts, like this one.) Maybe I came across as condescending in my comments, and she decided she didn’t want to pander to the requests of some snotty B, regardless of whether or not my requests (and perhaps my snottiness) were warranted. (My day job requires a lot of correspondence with authors and publishers, and the professional tone can be kind of hard to shake outside of work.) Still, I didn’t ask that she take the images down (though I’m skeptical she would have complied if I had), so I thought my requests were more than fair. In general, the practice of pulling someone else’s images/recipe and regurgitating them into a post of your own doesn’t really sit well with me, but that’s a different can of worms entirely. And I understand that this is just the risk one runs with publishing unique content online. (God knows how many things my images/writing have been used for that I’ll never know about.) Perhaps it’s rather amazing that I’ve been running this blog for two years and haven’t experienced an issue like this until now.
I suppose what it all boils down to is dismay. When I first began this site, I still wasn’t sure how I felt about blogging, and putting myself out there into the bustling-yet-lonely, ethereal e-universe. But now two years have flown by, and I’m so happy to be here. I’ve learned so many things. I’ve discovered amazing new sites. And best of all, I’ve (e-)met a ton of awesome people. I love being part of this community. So finding someone who seems to think that my images are worthy of
stealing using, but I am not worthy of credit, and my site not worthy of note (other than a link on one tiny little letter) makes me sad. I don’t want to nitpick over things like this. And I don’t want to have rigid image credit guidelines. I just want to trust people to use their best judgement and do what they believe is fair. For the most part, that works. The vast majority of us put a lot of work into what we do, and take pride in the end result. Subsequently, we understand that our sources of inspiration do the same, and we go to great lengths to give them credit for what they do.
If you made it through this entire post, congratulations! I would love to hear thoughts and feedback on this situation, and if anyone has experienced something similar. And if you think I’m crazy or overreacting, please tell me that too!
(And as an aside, I would like to note that I am totally fine with having my photos pinned on Pinterest or reblogged on Tumblr, as long as they are accompanied by a credit/link back to the original post.)