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READ LIKE A WRITER, a teaching blog


This is Part III of a series of articles on how to legally use mixed media within novels or nonfiction. Media Attorney Aimée Bissonette has been guiding us through the legal minefield of copyright versus public domain, and, today, how to determine fair use.

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In the last blog article I talked about advantages of using mixed genres within a work. However, if you use copyrighted materials without permission, you can find yourself in expensive legal trouble. Today, Media Attorney Aimée Bissonette has generously shared  Read More 

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This photo is free on Pixabay.com

By Christine Kohler

UPDATE: Normally updates are at the end of articles, but I've decided to break with the norm and post it up-top so you don't have to scroll or skip altogether, wondering why I ran the same article twice.

First, Pixabay.com must have changed it's swap policy. An author recently drew to my attention that she could not find anywhere in the policy that Pixabay.com wanted people to upload 10 photos, approved by their committee, in exchange for using their photos free. I pulled up the policy and re-read, and she was right. I could no longer find that request.

Second, you may have noticed I removed my own thorny photo with this article and the cutline explaining that the close-up desert nature photo had been rejected by Pixabay. Just to show how subjective the arts are, I submitted this same photo as one of three in an application to iStock by Getty. Their committee accepted it. So the photo no longer belongs to me, and that's why I removed it so I don't get in any legal trouble later for using my own photo when others have to pay for it. (My photos on this site are not protected and anyone can copy them with a right click of the mouse.)
Which leads me to my third update...

I am now an iStock by Getty contributing artist! I was especially surprised I was selected first try because I don't doctor my photos with PhotoShop or other fancy software. Photos today on any of these professional sites are stunning, whereas I'm more of a point-and-shoot news photographer. I'm sure my photography professor at the University of Hawaii would be flabbergasted, too. I won't make much money, but it's better than giving away my photos free. If I do make even a little money, I'll roll it into buying a new 35mm camera with a longer lens. One thing I won't be buying is PhotoShop. They have also changed their policy and now it costs a monthly fee, which is against a personal principle of mine.

If you do photography in stills or videos, illustrate, or design graphics, consider applying to one of the paid professional services. You won't make a lot of money, probably not as much as freelancing, but it may provide "low hanging fruit" as another author-editor friend calls it.


Anyone who has ever maintained a website or blogged knows the challenge of finding free photos and illustrations, and obtaining permission to use them. Writers and artists, possibly more than anyone else, are sensitive to the copyright issues. We not only support, but defend, copyright laws. Just ask an author about  Read More 

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