Guns, Gams & Gumshoes

A blog for PIs and writers/readers of the PI genre

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    A Guide for Writing Fictional Sleuths from a Couple of Real-Life Sleuths

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  • Copyright Notices

    All rights reserved by Colleen Collins. Any use of the content on this site (including images owned by Colleen Collins) requires specific, written authority.

    It has come to our attention that people are illegally copying and using the black and white private eye at a keyboard image that is used on our site. NOTE: This image is protected by copyright, property of Colleen Collins.

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Archive for the ‘Copyrights’ Category

Free High-Resolution Photos: Use for Any Purpose, No Attribution Necessary

Posted by Writing PIs on February 25, 2016

Unsplash Introduces Its Collections

For approximately two years, Unsplash has been offering professional high-resolution photos under Creative License Zero (which means you can copy, modify, and distribute for free without asking permission or giving attribution). Now they’re offering a collection of their best of the best photos categorized by various topics. Fantastic photographs for blogs, presentations, and more.

Below are a few of the collection photos (categories noted in captions). You can check out the complete Unsplash Collection photos by clicking here.

Unsplash: Collection Pictures

Astronaut in space over Earth

Best of NASA Collection: Astronaut in space over Earth

United States at night NASA Unsplash pub domain

Best of NASA Collection: United States at night from space

"This is Where You Are" on computer screen

The Startup Collection: “This is Where You Are” on computer screen

Checking smartphone screen in the dark

The Startup Collection: Checking smartphone screen in the dark

Man falling into lake

Adventure Collection: Man falling into lake

Notebook, camera, magnifying glass on ancient map

Adventure Collection:Notebook, camera, magnifying glass on ancient map

Posted in Copyrights, Public Domain Images | Tagged: , | Comments Off on Free High-Resolution Photos: Use for Any Purpose, No Attribution Necessary

No Cease and Desist Letters: Four Copyright-Free Image Sites

Posted by Writing PIs on June 30, 2015

Image in public domain, courtesy of Ryan McGuire

Image in public domain, courtesy of Ryan McGuire

Who says there’s no such thing as a free lunch? Or in this case, free professional high-resolution photos and images. No need to copy images off the Internet, risking violating copyrights and receiving nasty cease & desist letters from lawyers – instead check out these four sites that offer gorgeous stuff for free downloads, all copyright-free.

Some indie writers use sites such as iStockPhoto, which offers royalty-free, professional high-resolution graphics, illustrations and images for a fee, but some of the more popular images show up over and over on indie book covers. What’s great about the below sites is the images are unique, with some offering new, free images every week or so via an email subscription.


road leading to castle

This is one of our current favorites. Stunning photos, many of landscapes, that can be modified in any way you want, including for commercial use, no attribution required. Sign-up for new images, sent weekly to your inbox.

Link: Unsplash


womens legs laundromatfeet shoes street fuzzy slippers

We have one word for this site: Fun! All photographs by Ryan McGuire, who calls himself a “whimsically creative visual artist.” All images are copyright-free for you to use on any project, personal or commercial, and he doesn’t require an attribution, although he wouldn’t mind if you did it anyway (a simple “Photo by Ryan McGuire” does the trick). Email sign-up for his new, copyright-free images.

Link: Gratisography

Little Visuals

old doorbell blue doorold brownie camera

Sadly, this photographer, a young man named Nic, died suddenly in November 2013. He offered his photos copyright-free for anyone to download for personal and/or commercial uses. His family has posted a note explaining that Nic died from Sudden Adult Death Syndrome (SADS), and asks those who are downloading Nic’s images to consider giving to the Hand on the Heart charity (link provided).

Link: Little Visuals

Life of Pix


High-resolution photos without copyright restrictions, courtesy of an advertising agency in Montreal (Leeroy Advertising Agency). No attribution required. They also offer an email subscription for weekly copyright-free images.

Link: Life of Pix

Have a great week, Writing PIs

All images in this post are in the public domain. All rights reserved for written content.

Posted in Copyrights, Public Domain Images | Tagged: , , , , , | Comments Off on No Cease and Desist Letters: Four Copyright-Free Image Sites

Copyright Violations and Public Domain Images

Posted by Writing PIs on November 12, 2014

fedora black and white

Post before last, we wrote about copyright trolls (how to recognize them, current litigation against them, and how to protect yourself so you don’t fall prey to their tactics). At the end of the article, we talked about copyrights in general and included a link to romance author Ronnie Loren’s story about being sued, as in for a lot of money, by a photographer when she copied and pasted one of his photos, without his permission, from the Internet to use in one of her blog posts. It cost her a lot of money, including legal fees, but eventually the case was settled. After learning that hard lesson, she only posts her own photos on her blog.

Here’s the link again to her story: Bloggers Beware: You CAN Get Sued For Using Pics on Your Blog – My Story

Like an Image? Contact the Copyright Owner

Years ago, one of the Writing PIs, Colleen, contacted a graphic artist and expressed interest in licensing one of his drawings. They worked out an agreement, and Colleen now uses the images occasionally in blog posts.

Soon after, she found a vintage pulp fiction cover by Robert A. Macguire that she wanted to use on a website. Macguire, well known to pulp fiction fans, created over 600 covers for such publishers as Penguin, Pocket, Dell, Avon, Bantam and many more. Colleen contacted R.A. Macguire’s estate and they worked out a licensing agreement for the image. The estate also removed the text on the image so Colleen could add her own.

Sure, it would be a lot easier, and certainly cheaper as in free, to just pluck a vintage pulp cover–or any other image–off the Internet, but unless a person has obtained the permission of the copyright owner, to “pluck” such an image is violating U.S. copyright and intellectual property laws. One might argue, “But…but…everybody plucks stuff!” Well, a lot of people certainly do, but then some, like Ronnie Loren, get caught and have expensive legal experiences.

Our Experience Protecting a Copyright

Previously, we mentioned how Colleen licensed a drawing from a graphic artist. She so admired his work that she contacted him again and asked if he were available to create a logo for her. This artist had worked professionally as an illustrator for video games, books and other media for years, but had since happily retired and didn’t want to take any contract work as an illustrator. A few days later he called back, said he’d changed his mind because he and Colleen had always gotten along well, plus the logo sounded like a fun project.

And it was. They experimented with several concepts before settling on one, which he drew in varying sizes for her to use. They signed an agreement, Colleen paid him for his artwork, and she is now the owner of the copyright.

A few years ago, we found that several private investigations businesses were using this image on their websites. Colleen contacted them and explained that she owned the copyright, and could they please take down the image, or credit the image. Their choice. Both chose to credit the image, and all was well.

This last weekend we were surprised to see an article by a P.I., posted on several sites, which prominently displayed this image. We contacted the P.I. and asked if he could please take down the image or credit it. He credited it, even adding a compliment or two for both Colleen and the illustrator. He was so nice about it, Shaun now has his name and contact information in case Shaun ever needs a defense investigator in that part of the country.

More Websites Had Illegally Copied the Image

We thought it might be a good idea to run a reverse check on the image and see if it had been copied elsewhere on the Internet.  Oh boy, had it. At least 15 sites were displaying it, a few being even more P.I. sites. So Shaun wrote a formal takedown notice and sent it to these sites, as well as to Google’s and YouTube’s legal departments who handled copyright violations for Blogger and YouTube.

Why not just let people copy and paste the image? Let’s not forget that Colleen paid a professional to create this image for her use. She worked with the artist on the concept and final image. She didn’t give her time and money so the image could be freely used by anyone on the Internet. Plus, Colleen’s not being heavy-handed about it — as long as the website credits the image, fine. Although when we saw a gamer forum member, whose unprintable profile name was high on the scum-o-meter, using the image as his avatar (which meant every time he posted, which was many times each day, that image displayed alongside his scum-o-meter name), we asked the site administrator to please remove the copyrighted image altogether.

Other website owners and site administrators have graciously abided with the takedown notice or they have credited the image.

What we found interesting were that some sites, which aggressively protected their own copyrights, thought nothing of violating Colleen’s copyrighted material. One site had all kinds of threats and copyright notices with trademark symbols around the guy’s graphic art…yet he’d copied and pasted Colleen’s copyrighted image to use on his blog without ever asking permission to do so.

Images Available via the Public Domain

Want some cool, free images? There’s sites out there that offer professionally created photos, illustrations, audio and video for free. Here’s a few:

iStockPhotos: This site offers a few free professional illustrations, audio, video and photos every week. Only a few — the rest of iStockPhoto’s items cost money, of course. Here’s a few examples of free images we got from iStockPhoto:

fedora on woman black and whitevintage writer at old typewriter

iStockPhoto requires a registration. Scroll to the bottom of the page to see their free images and other media for the week.

Getty Museum Public Domain Images: Getty Museum, via its Getty Search Gateway, offers hundreds of photos, paintings, illustrations and more for free via its public domain portal. Here are a few examples (feel free to copy and paste any of them for your own use — all the Getty asks is that you add the following credit: Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program):

Leonilla Princess of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn 1843 Franz Xaver Winterhalter Digital image courtesy of the Getty's Open Content Program

Whelan's NY 1944 by Brett Weston Digital image courtesy of the Getty's Open Content Program5 Men in Suits NY 1963 by Walker Evans Digital image courtesy of the Getty's Open Content Program


Have a great week, Writing PIs

Posted in Copyright violations, Copyrights, Public Domain Images | Comments Off on Copyright Violations and Public Domain Images

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