I’m a criminal.

Not just the type that zips down the highway more than the excusable 5 mph over the posted speed limit.

I’m also a hypocrite. 

I’m a stickler for academic honesty, for giving credit where it’s due, and for the past umpteen years I’ve taught classes about citing sources responsibly. Sadly, more than a couple of disgruntled former university students can attest to the fact that I’ve significantly marked down (think “zero”) student papers that a quick Google search proved to have been deliberately plagiarized.

Yet I am guilty of using other people’s artistic property dishonestly.

When I first began blogging, I simply wrote and wrote. A lover of words (and not very adept in using various social media platforms like Pinterest), I believed that what I had to say was “enough”.

Then I began reading and following other people’s blogs. Some sites drew me in more than others, and I found myself wanting to make my own posts more visibly appealing.

And that’s when I crossed the line.

I began adding images, almost always from Pinterest.

As I learned last week, that is not okay. In fact, it’s illegal.

It’s illegal even though I often gave cursory credit (“photo courtesy of Pinterest”) in a photo tagline. It’s illegal even though the photo or meme had already been used inappropriately by other people before me.

One could argue that what’s done is done or ask what’s the worst that could happen. It’s not like there’s an “image-stealing jail” I could be sentenced to, right?

I mean let’s be honest here. In the vast blogging universe, it’s unlikely that my little blog will be noticed by anyone who might discover what I’ve done.

But the truth is, I know.

And despite the (attempted) levity in this entry’s title, I take this very seriously.

So, amidst all the hoopla that makes up my life right now (more on that next Tuesday — how’s that for a teaser?), I will be spending the next few days removing all images from my blog.

Forthwith, I will be using only photos that I have taken or that I can share legally.

But today I have no images to offer.

Only my apology to those whose work I’ve inadvertently used dishonestly.