Using other people's photos

I received during the week, a lovely letter from a man who had visited my photography exhibition.  He would have seen it in the local paper.  He was the same man I took photos of some baby Tawny Frogmouths for late last year when the family was in his garden.  He was thrilled to see photos of these birds on display at the exhibition and felt that he had, in a small way, contributed to my exhibition.

He loved the photobook I had on display but was disappointed he couldn’t buy it and was asking if it was possible for me to get several printed.  What a lovely surprise to get that letter.  I checked with the company that produced that book for me but it would cost me over $40 to reproduce more copies and I felt that might be a bit much to ask of others so set out finding a service online that might do it cheaper for me.  I went to as I have used them successfully in the past for other books.  However, as I began setting up the photobook, imagine my surprise when they gave a direct link to Fotolio encouraging their clients to use that service to source photos for their photobooks.  Huh?  Surely that’s not right. Many people produce books to sell via (as I plan to) and don’t think they should be selling books with other people’s work in it.  A quick check of their Terms of Service showed that people were not allowed to do that, and yet here they are encouraging people to create books that could well be sold in their system.

I immediately wrote a letter to them via email explaining my concern as a working photographer.  I told them that it would be rare/unusual for anyone who had taken the photos themselves to download via Fotolio when they could upload from their own computers, so it would be those who don’t own the photos who would be accessing them from Fotolio. And are they doing anything to police their rules relating to non-sale of books using other people’s work that may be copyrighted?  I wait for their response.

I wouldn’t be happy to see someone else selling a photobook filled with photos I took and I doubt that any other photographer would either.  What are your thoughts?


  1. Hey Kathie, you’re right that does sound wrong … good on you for picking them up on it. I’ll be interested to hear what response you get.

    I know when I am sourcing pics for Footprints, I am v. careful to try and use only those with a creative commons licence or that I have been giving permission for (as can’t afford to pay). Makes it tricky sometimes to get just the right image but feel it’s mega important as a Christian magazine to do the right thing, and be a woman (editor!) of integrity!

  2. Absolutely Janet. And of course you can always contact me if you’re looking for something in particular 🙂

  3. Hi Kathie, I agree with all your comments. With regard to an online service for photobooks, can I recommend Smilebox, or if you have a Mac, iPhoto has a very good photobook option. HT


  1. […] saw my post last week about using other people’s photos when using Print on Demand services.  I got comments via my blog as well as at Facebook, Twitter […]

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