If you run a blog or write for a blog, you're probably looking for ways to make that blog better every day. Part of making any blog post stand out is creating images that capture attention (and, hopefully, hold it!). You can grab images from a creative commons site like Flickr, find press kits on corporate blogs, and ask for permission to use certain photos – all are good methods. You can also take pictures yourself, but this is often hard to do when it comes to explaining certain topics.
Another great idea: take a few screenshots.
But, is this legal? And, what can you do to make sure the screenshots you're taking won't result in a legal notice?
The Lowdown on Screenshots
This is a really stick subject for a number of reasons. But, basically, if the screenshot you have just taken is used fairly, it's fair game. Let's explore that term a bit because “fair” is often subjective.
In the U.S., the ‘Fair Use' law applies when:
- You have good intent and purpose: if you are teaching, learning, criticizing, or reporting on news, your screenshot falls under the ‘Fair Use' category, and there's not much anyone can do about it. Of course, you do have to prove that you had are using that picture for one of these set purposes.
- How many duplicates you make: don't make ten thousand duplicates of the same photo and pass it around. If you make just one copy, you should be okay.
- Amount of copyrighted material: you can't take screen-shots of every page of a document – that's copyright infringement. You can, however, take a snippet screen-shot of a document. See the difference?
- Are you making money off of it. This one isn't as clear cut as it sounds. Essentially, the screen-shot that you post has to be used for one of the purposes listed above. So, if you want to post a screen-shot of, say, a Google Analytic s dashboard to show someone how to use Analytic s, you're okay – even if your company sells something.
Um, Now What?
So, now that you know what the laws are, you're probably asking yourself: sure, but can I actually use that screenshot I just took? For the most part, you can. If you get a nasty letter from an attorney telling you to stop using that screenshot (and you have done so legally), there's not much that they can do about it. But, this is not legal advice and should not be taken as so – just some friendly advice to help you get through the content jungle!
Also, you will find the Snaggy site very useful when it comes to, well, snagging screenshots. Just copy, paste, edit, and copy to your site. And, by all means, if you run a web hosting site and you want to take a screenshot of a product that you sell to teach your clients – do it! The more images your site has, the better off you will be!
Questions? Let us know!