Somebody called ‘Artemis’ wrote on Facebook on Tuesday morning ‘we are a mean nation of mean people.’
It seemed a very sad thing to be saying but I had to agree with it, given the present unsavory jockeying for the positions of Prime Minister, the widespread greed for money and power, the brutal faces of men – and women – on the streets, punching and kicking out at anyone they hate, and the spitefulness of trolls on social media. But it isn’t all gloom. There are still gentle, compassionate and empathetic people around in our society. Thank God.
I met one such last Thursday on my first train journey out of Bognor for nine months. I was feeling a bit apprehensive, not just about travelling which I ought to be used to by now, but about the fact that I didn’t know where I was going when I reached Victoria. I had arranged to meet up with my new agent at a place called The Rail House Cafe in Sir Simon Milton Square. Charlotte and I had looked it up the day before but couldn’t find it and I didn’t really want to get lost looking for it!
Luckily there was an affable man, sitting opposite me, busy at his laptop. We had smiled at one another from time to time as we both worked, for naturally I had a pen and notebook in hand. When we’d passed Clapham Junction, he packed up his laptop and had obviously finished work for the time being, so I asked him if he was going to Victoria and when he said he was, asked him if he knew where Simon Milton Square was. He looked it up on his phone, told me it wasn’t far from the station and tried to give me some idea of how to get there. Then, because I was obviously looking baffled he said, ‘Don’t worry, I’ll take you there.’ I told him that was very kind but protested that it would take him out of his way but he said no, he was going to Westminster and had thought of taking the tube but he could walk just as easily.
He escorted me to the Square and then into the Cafe, which I’m sure was out of his way, and what is more he pulled my heavy case all the way. I thanked him very much indeed and told him he was a good Samaritan, but he said ‘No, no, I was glad to be able to help you.’ I thought what a super guy he was, a bright light in a grubby world. I had a lovely meal with my agent and then went on to travel to my sister’s where I was going to stay for a few days and finally got home on Saturday evening.
And that very day the shark homed into my email. He greeted me as though we were the best of friends, ‘Hi Beryl’ although I didn’t know him from Adam, but then he moved on to say ‘you’re using two of my photos on your blog but I have no record of any request from you to do so. Please, can we discuss it.’
That sounds pretty harmless doesn’t it, but it was not. Be warned all my writing friends and blogging friends out there, if you want to use a picture that you’ve found on Google or any other search site, you have to pay a fee to be allowed to do it and not just a tiny token fee but considerable money. The gentleman who contacted me estimated that I owed him £3,000. He agreed on a very much smaller sum eventually but it was money he was after and money he got.
So if you are thinking of putting a picture on your blog, be very careful where you get it from, the images found on Google etc may be subject to Copyright and you have no way of knowing except that the photographers name might be posted on the bottom of the picture. In my case in one of the pictures the name was there but I didn’t even see it because it was so small.
Fortunately for us there are companies that will allow you to use photographs on their sites for free, if you Google ‘copyright free images’ you will find a list of them.
I’ve now removed all possible sources of income for the various gentlemen who make a living out of charging fees for the use of their pictures from my blog. And any other areas where they might have been found or be found on my various websites.
We have to be very careful folks. This is big business we’re talking about. The gentleman who contacted me, told people who had come to a meeting to hear how this particular business venture could be handled to their best advantage, that he had made £45,000 out of it.
Sorry about the picture-less blog this time. But you can see why it is so denuded.
Take great care. In this regard at least, Artemis was right.
Indeed, this sounds like extortion, and also, like a scam! However, I guess if the person’s name is on the photo as the “owner” then that person can “extort” you! However, what an idiot, he could have made your acquaintance and your friendship would have been worth much more!
I am sure his photos weren’t that great, either.
Sadly it is all perfectly legal but I thought I ought to warn other people who use Google for pictures and might get caught in the same trap. We live in horribly corrupt times.