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My composer son believes in copyright karma. In high school, while pirated music surrounded him, he could have played his iTunes around the clock for two weeks straight without duplicating a track, and every note of it was legally paid for. He wanted others to respect his intellectual property rights so he lived it.

In this era of downloadable music, photos, and books, the profits are tiny–we have to hope quantity compensates–and the connections between creators and buyers are rare.

On this site, I like to give copyright notice for the photos I use and their sources, even though that isn’t required. I do it to thank those artists and organizations who created and distributed them, and to protect their rights whenever someone wants an image they spotted here. I rename the files to include the copyright owner so they can’t be illegally used unwittingly. Remember, that just because we aren’t charging for our use of someone’s work does not give license to reproduce or display it.

Recently I learned that the stock photo service I’ve enjoyed for several years hosts a discussion forum to celebrate works spotted in use. Apparently, it’s the colleagues who usually post these, not the buyers. We buyers could be more thoughtful. I know that whenever I have taken time to thank a photographer and share my image placement, that gesture was enthusiastically welcomed. Here’s what I posted on the iStock in Action forum:

“Lately I’ve gotten lazy about contacting individual photographers to thank you for the great shots to illustrate my blog. And because I’m involved in WordPress’s PostADay2011 challenge, there are more of you to thank! I just learned about this forum, so I’m thanking you publicly and collectively.

“Thank you for the photos that fit my blog perfectly and made that touch of class affordable. Thank you for the ones I almost chose. Thank you for a few still waiting their turns. Thank you for images that inspired blog posts instead of the other way around. Thank you for those that stunned me or made me smile. Thank you for capturing the beauty in the world.”

“Today, I thank Parema for the ice cream cart:” (And I linked to Thursday’s blog.)

And now I’ve picked a new one, so I owe Paga Design a thank you note.

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Text © Gwyn Nichols 2011, All Rights Reserved

Photo © Paga Design, iStockphoto® #14148465