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Voices / Letters from readers

Discussion shows perils and pitfalls of website photo use

Editor’s note: After several years of dormancy, The Commons will soon relaunch a series of Media Mentoring presentations on all aspects of publishing. We are planning to address this topic. Stay tuned for details.

Thanks very much for printing Peggy Farabaugh’s piece about copyright infringement [Business, June 18] and also the response from Markus Brakhan [Letters, June 25].

Though Brakhan’s assessment of Farabaugh’s situation might seem harsh, the two letters serve as warning to those of us who maintain websites for small businesses. Apparently, these days we must develop the ability to research the provenance of photos and other graphics that we use or else forgo using them.

In light of all this, I think a how-to article or workshop would be very helpful so we can learn how to protect ourselves. Any experts out there willing to offer this to the community, or to point us to a user-friendly online source of guidance? I manage a Facebook page for Senior Solutions, and I am particularly curious how this issue applies to the many graphic items we share there.

In the meantime, I will apply some cautious common sense. When seeking graphics for websites and brochures, I will use well-known reputable sites and be willing to pay a bit if necessary. Considering what Farabaugh is going through, $10 or $20 is a small price to pay for a photo.

If someone sends me a photo to share in our public communications, I will ask them if it is theirs to give. If they say yes, I guess I’ll need to have them sign some kind of statement to that effect. If they say no, then it will be time to ascertain the source or find a substitute.

It’s unfortunate that acting in good faith is not enough. Owners and employees of small businesses have to be knowledgeable about so many things these days.

Janis Hall

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Originally published in The Commons issue #261 (Wednesday, July 2, 2014). This story appeared on page D2.

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