Why YOU Should Care About Copyright

Whether you’re a writer, a cover designer, or even a reader – you NEED to care about copyright. It’s actually one of the easiest things to have violated, especially given modern technology and all the new trends that go with it. You post photos of yourself, your friends and your children to a few social media sites you enjoy, thinking only your own followers will see them, click ‘like’ or leave a comment and move along. The next thing you know, there is your photo on the cover of a book, without attribution and most certainly without your permission.

That’s what happened to an Ohio couple when their engagement photo was used for the cover of an erotica ebook. Needless to say, they were appalled and are now suing not only Amazon, Apple and Barnes & Noble, but the indie author who published the book as well. It’s widely assumed that the author designed and created the cover herself. And I have to assume that she was either ignorant of any and all copyright laws or just didn’t care when she sought out and downloaded the personal engagement photo of the unnamed couple, as well as images of the famous NFL player this particular author is obviously obsessed with. All such images have since been replaced with stock images the author purchased the proper rights to.

The point is… CARE ABOUT COPYRIGHT. I’m sure you can imagine how upset you would be if someone stole your entire book and uploaded it onto another vendor’s site for financial gain. Or if you happened by a book store window and saw your child’s face on a book about child abuse.

Do unto others…

There are countless legitimate stock image sites that offer beautiful photographs that can be purchased and licensed for use on a book cover. There are also plenty of reputable book cover designers out there who follow the laws. The laws were written for a reason – to protect us. That only works when you follow and comply with them.

If you’re an indie author on a tight budget and you have no choice by to make your own book cover, check out some stock image sites that offer the proper licensing for such use. Just be sure to read their Terms of Use/Service and, most importantly, the license attached to each image.

These are just a few:

PLEASE NOTE: Be extremely cautious of any stock site containing an enormous amount of digital artworks, like manipulations and paintings. These are most likely stolen from the original artist and/or off wallpaper websites, which are NOT licensed for commercial use. Also note that Google is NOT a legitimate resource for finding usable images. Online search engines seek out and display any and all online images fitting the keywords you’re using in your search and most are not stock or resources.

If you happen to find an image you absolutely love and want to use more than anything, find the original artist and ask permission. If they say ‘yes’ then keep the written permission handy at all times, so there is never any question. If they say ‘no’ – find something else to use. I’ll channel my mother by advising you to ask yourself the following questions: Is it mine? Do I have permission? If not… you can’t use it. It’s that simple.

The best way to protect yourself is to hire a professional designer and there are plenty out there who won’t break your budget. Shop around, compare art styles and pricing. Not only will you get a book cover that will help you sell books, you’ll have the added protection of proper licensing.

Here are some cover designers to check out:

I hope this story circulates and more authors learn about the copyright laws that are attempting to protect us. Though I’m sure the indie author facing this lawsuit has probably sold a fair number of books due to all the bad press, I bet it’s not the way she wanted to increase her sales. She may even want to find a new pen name to avoid further ridicule, should she wish to continue her tales of lust with her celebrity love interest.

Write on, my friends.


Leave a comment


  1. Excellent points! Almost all of my ebooks are on torrent sites. There are so many, that it does no good to try and get them removed. The ones originating from foreign countries aren’t governed by the same copyright laws, so it doesn’t matter and they simply don’t care. I actually posted a request to removed a link on a personal blog that I found, advertising one of my books for free. I subsequently suffered a rash of ‘drive-by’ poor ratings on Goodreads for said book and I am certain it originated from members of that blog. So not only are my right infringed, but I am then punished when I try to do something about it.

  2. I know from Emily Guido’s recent issues over copyright how stressful it can be, the only time I ever tend to use image taken from google is if I want a pretty generic picture of a place, you know the ones that everyone almost seems to stand in the same place to take the same shot, but usually there is no chance of doing anything other than posting it comes from google images but to be fair they are few and far in between except for this last months A-Z challenge and are certainly not used for profit, or an image of a book cover I am reviewing. When it comes to my own personal books I know I do not have the time or patience to create them, though I am having a go at one just for a short story/novella but that is ebook only, I would much rather come to someone like you who has the knowledge and technical skill to put my together a package of ebook/print/banners etc What really needs to happen is all the big name authors whose work is on these sites to get together and kick up a fuss, people will listen to them and if the servers and web hosts can be held accountable for stolen contents (a bit like handling stolen goods) then maybe they will check what the sites they are hosting are up to more frequently.

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