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Blogging Tips

5 Ways You Can Avoid the Threat of a Blogging Lawsuit

I knew the outcome before I even clicked through the Pin. When I landed on Chrystie’s site and started reading about her green pepper photo woes , I knew there was only more bad news ahead. The title, while sensational, also kinda gave it away. But for real y’all, Chrystie’s tragic tale is just the start if you have no idea what I’m referencing, click here ). Raise your hand if you’ve ever re-grammed a post on Instagram? Or created a blog round-up post? Or used Google as if it were a stock photo site?

If your hand is up, you’ve committed the blogger equivalent of eating that deadly pufferfish sushi. Lucky you if you haven’t wound up as dead meat yet, and lucky you for finding THIS post to walk you through the five ways to avoid a lawsuit going forward.

Get permission.

Permission is as simple as asking. And it definitely doesn’t mean simply tagging someone. In fact, when you tag someone, you just tell them that you took their stuff AND you’re pointing them right to the crime scene. It’s like when a kid poops on the floor then comes to drag you into the room to show you what they did. Don’t be that kid.

Obviously, sometimes this isn’t possible to get permission (in which case I’d proceed directly to #5, below). But when you can ask and get permission, you can show someone you respect them, so they’re flattered, not ready to stab your eyeballs out for stealing their stuff. Plus, if it’s in an email, it’s in writing forever and ever and ever.


Use royalty-free stock photo sites.

My favorite? Well, paid sites generally have MUCH better photos, but ya know, you have to pay for them. If you’re willing to make the investment, you can find something gorgeous for every budget. My favs are at Creative Market , Stocksy , and SC Stockshop . But for free? There are a ton of free stock photo sites, but the quality isn’t great. I prefer to build my friendships and get great photos by using the tips from #1 (above) and #3 (below).

If you’re interested in learning how to run a legit blog or business, grab my free guide by clicking here or on the photo below.

Set up a trade.

Trades are my favorite way to get great photos because they’re a win-win for both of you. You have something valuable to offer the photographers, calligraphers, and designers in your life- whether that is your paid products, a shout out to your ginormous audience, or a free blog post (hey, there’s only 24 hours in a day! What I would give to have this taken off my plate…) If you’re not sure where to find others to swap with, try finding some friends first. Find your new blog BFF by going to a Tuesdays Together meeting and offering to follow up with a meeting over coffee (or drinks… whatever!)


Quietly swap out ‘bad’ photos.

If you’re reading this and having a heart attack, chillax my friend. It’s so hard to get eyeballs on your blog when you’re just starting that it’s so not even funny. If you find yourself in a panic about using a design or photo illegally, quietly remove the photo without much hubbub and hope that you’re fine. Then deploy one of the four other strategies here to make sure it doesn’t happen again, like when people are actually paying attention to you.

Check out the privacy policy + terms and conditions of a site.

When you can’t get permission, or maybe you’re too busy to ask, a great alternative is to scroll all the way to the bottom of a site and read their ‘intellectual property’ provisions, typically located in their privacy policy. Many sites will allow your limited use of their photos, such as some retailers who want to encourage you to promote their products for free.

That’s it- these simple five steps could save you months of financial pain and blog blackmailing from unsavory attorneys.

christina-scaleraChristina Scalera is a business strategist + attorney for bloggers and other creative entrepreneurs. If you’re interested in learning more from Christina, click here to grab her free book all about how to legally set up your blog as a business. No more late night ugly cries*! (*Well, maybe from the crib, but not for you mama!) This article contains affiliate links.




Chrystie is a mom of 3 kids and wife to one. She's sold 4 blogs in the last 10 years and now helps other women start their blogging empire. Her love for really bad reality TV is only trumped by her love for margaritas without salt. Her other addictions include spray painting everything gold and embarrassing her kids at the bus stop. #thatmom

This article has 3 comments

  1. Jocelyne

    I truly believe this and this applies to any platform. I almost went through this and now I just take my own photos and if I do use other’s photos I just ask. Thank you for sharing your insight. 🙂

  2. Debra Petre

    This article intrigued me. I am a photographer and would like to direct you to a spectacular website which artists and photographers post their work on. Some of them are beginners and would love to have their photo posted on your blog with a reference back to that said photographer. I just had a blogger ask to use one of my nature photos for his blog, I said, “yes”, as long as you reference my name. It was all good. The website is Good Luck!

  3. SEO

    Thanks, Brittany! I was hoping that it would be encouraging and helpful to see some actual examples

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