The Empire's policies: syndicating and attributing content

By: See-ming LeeCC BY 2.0
This post features what used to be an internal document I created for interns, outlining the general guidelines for posting non-original content on the Offbeat Empire. At this point, I don't see any reason why this shouldn't be public — especially since there's a lot of differing opinions about etiquette around these issues.

There's a lot of grey area with this stuff, and obviously we can't anticipate every scenario … but hopefully this post provides clarity on our general policies for sharing, linking, citing, and attributing content.

PHOTOS

If the photos were submitted by the photographer or subject via email or Flickr pool.

In this case the content owner clearly wants their content on our website, so we can be a bit more lenient in how we feature their stuff:

  • Post as many photos as you want, either grabbing the link code from Flickr or by grabbing/hosting the images on the offbeat serve — don't upload someone else's image to Flickr or and do not hotlink.
  • Give written attribution including name of photographer and website where the photos are hosted.
  • Link image to original source page (not file — PAGE), so that when readers click the photo, they go to the source.
  • Be sure to mention who submitted the photos. Examples: "Thanks to [Subject] for sending us these photos, taken by [Photographer]" or "Thanks to [Photographer] for sending us these photos of [Subject]."
  • Include at least one link and basic info about the photographer (ie, "I love these shots of [Subject], taken by Boston photographer Beth Smith.")

If the photos were submitted by a third party or something you found online

Keep in mind that the photographer/subject may have never heard of the Offbeat Empire, so we need to be extremely cautious and respectful in how we feature photos. We want it to be very clear that we do NOT own the image. Our goal is for the photographer or subject to feel flattered and rewarded by us featuring their work (never exploited). The best way to do this is to use links in the post to drive lots of traffic to their website. The primary goal with posts like this is to do just one teaser image, and then direct traffic to the photographer/subject's site to view the rest.

In this case:

  • Only feature one photo from any given photographer, and make sure it's hosted on our server — don't upload someone else's image to Flickr, and do not ever hotlink. (If you want to feature more than one photo, you must contact the photographer/subject directly.)
  • Whenever possible, link image to original source page (not file — PAGE), so that when readers click the photo, they go to the source.
  • Whenever possible, give written attribution in both caption and body text, including name of subject, photographer, and website where the photos are hosted.
  • Whenever possible, include at least one link and basic info about the photographer (ie, "I love these shots of [Bride & Groom], taken by Wisconsin photographer Beth Smith.")
  • Whenever possible, contact the photographer or subject via comment or email to let them know that you've featured the content on Offbeat Bride, and giving them a link to view the post
  • If a third party submitted it, credit them (ie, "Thanks to Helen for sending this in!")
  • Always reference and link any intermediary sources (ie, "Found via ABC Blog")

WRITTEN CONTENT

If the content was submitted by the author

In this case the content owner clearly wants their content on our website, so we can be a bit more lenient in how we feature their stuff:

  • Feel free include all content, including any photos (hosted on flickr or Offbeat server) and text
  • Always email author to let them know it's been posted, providing a link and suggesting they follow comments to answer feedback.

If the content was submitted by a third party or something we found

Again, the content owner may have never heard of the Offbeat Empire, so we need to be extremely cautious about how we feature their work so that it's clear who wrote it (ie not us!). The primary goal is to feature teaser copy and direct traffic to the content owner's site to read the rest.

We consider it acceptable to reproduce a short excerpt (no more than 150 words) without contacting the original author, as long as the quote is fully attributed and the call to action very clearly links to the original post at least twice. Tip: always include a "Go read more!" call to action/link at the END of the post, in addition to somewhere in the post body.

CONTENT FROM THE OFFBEAT BRIDE TRIBE

Most Offbeat Bride Tribe members are usually excited to be featured on the Offbeat Bride blog, but it's still important to carefully follow these guidelines:

  • Always get the member's explicit permission
  • It's ok to post entire content (photos, text, everything) with explicit permission
  • Clarify with the member that their post may be edited
  • Make sure the Tribe member is the original creator of the content — ie no tutorials they didn't create, images they found somewhere online, designs they ripped off from artists, etc.
  • This is one case where hotlinking is ok, since all Tribe images are hosted on our servers
  • Make sure it's clear in the post (using blockquotes, etc) what WE'VE written and what the Tribe member has written.
  • Always email Tribe member to let them know it's been posted, providing a link and suggesting they follow comments for to answer feedback.

WHEN IN DOUBT

Always play it cautious: over-credit your sources, ask for permission even when you don't think you need to, and never make any assumptions about what's ok.

Oh and PS: Yes, Pinterest has made all of this more interesting.

  1. Great guidelines. It's really hard sometimes to know what to do with fashion photos from a designer. We feature anyway because in many instances the photographer isn't even known (or really, would Annie Leibovitz respond to my email).

    But Pinterest has really made this messy now. You can easily "Embed this" for any photo possible. You have no idea if the photographer knows their photo is pinned and circulating on hundreds of mood boards and possibly embedded on many more sites.

    Have you come up with any guidelines yet for Pinterest?

    0 agree
    • Totally agree that Pinterest makes this WAY more messy. We feature embedded pins in some of our posts, and the best guidance I can give is to make sure that the original pin is well-sourced.

      Pinterest is definitely the latest battleground for photographers wrestling through the sticky issues of copyright. Here's one perspective I read just this morning: http://www.stuckincustoms.com/2012/02/13/why-photographers-should-stop-complaining-about-copyright-and-embrace-pinterest/

      Pinterest is now THE #1 REFERRER to Offbeat Bride, so I'm totally ok with our content being shared over there. I know there are some photographers who are super upset by it, but I feel like once content goes on the internet, you can pretty much assume it's going to be shared (or ripped off; happens to us all the time!) and the best you can do is share it well and hope some of the traffic comes back.

      0 agree

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