Today's rant is about image theft and how it's often perpetrated by writers--who should know better. My first rant on this subject was inspired by my experiences on Wattpad, where baby-writers will often post pages long threats about what will happen to you if you copy their precious, precious words, under a cover made with stolen images. Because only their copyright matters.
However, the problem isn't limited to only baby-writers. A disturbing number of self-published indie authors who should know better seem to still believe any image is fair game as long as they're not profiting from it. Although I would personally think an author's blog is a form of marketing and thus the image is being used commercially, ie to promote the author and inspire sales. I'm not a lawyer but I believe an artist could make a legit case.
But when you see an image with a big ol' watermark on it, that is a clear and unmistakable sign that the creator of that image does not want you to use it. No matter how non-profit your motive. In such cases, if you want to use the image you must contact the artist. If they give you permission to use it, they will give you a copy without a watermark. If they sell you a license to use it, they will give you a copy without the watermark. If they say no, you may not use it.
If the watermark is from a stock company, the artist uploaded it there so it would not be used without a license. Period.
You'd think this would be common sense, particularly to other creatives, but like many things we think are obvious, it's clearly not.
TL;DR - Writers! Don't Steal Art!