As many of you may know, I used to volunteer to do the web promotion for a small-not-for-profit group. It was a really big job and fortunately I wasn’t doing it by myself – another volunteer assisted me by writing up blog posts. Unfortunately, in one of the blog posts that got published on the website an image was used without a license. About three months later we received a cease and desist letter in the mail from the lawyer of the stock photo site that had been granted the rights to distribute the image by the photographer. The license for the image in question was $26, but because we had used it without a license the photographer, together with the stock photo site were seeking compensation of $853 for the three months of un-licensed use from the time the post was published to the time the stock photo site issued their cease and desist letter. Unfortunately my friend learned a very valuable lesson the day that the letter came:
Images obtained from internet searches are not FREE.
I think it’s safe to say that we have all been tempted to use Google Images on our website or blog. Google is awesome, and they make it incredibly easy to find the perfect image for a blog post, or page.
But what you may not realize is that Google Images are not free to use, and copyright is automatically assigned at the moment of creation.
“But it’s on the internet! If it’s on Google then it’s free to use, right?”
You should assume that the right to use any content you find online is owned by someone else – unless you are explicitly given the rights to use it.
Images you CAN use:
Don’t let this discourage you from using images on your website. You just need to make sure that you own them, or you have licensed permission to use them.
For some small business owners, licensing an image from Getty will be too expensive. Thankfully there are alternative licensing options in the form of “Royalty-Free”.
Royalty-Free does not mean that you are free to use the images. You must pay for the image, but once you do you have the right to use the image without additional royalty payments.
Some great places to get affordable Royalty-Free Stock Photos for your website are:
If purchasing stock photos is not your thing, then I absolutely recommend taking your own photos. This guarantees that you will not get into any trouble down the road.
The best part is that you are able to capture the exact shot you were imagining. Get creative and start taking your own photos. It will be a more honest reflection of your business or your blog.
What about the images you took yourself for your blog?
In order to protect yourself, always ensure that if you have recognisable/identifiable people, buildings, restaurants, businesses or logos in images, you have a model or property release.
Check your own work online
You can find out if your images are being used on the Web without your consent by using TinEye (http://tineye.com). Submit your photo and it will scan the Web for you. If someone else is using your images without your consent, you may have a right to demand they remove the image, credit your work or pay you damages.
If you’re not Sure – always ask for permission. If you are looking to use or reproduce images on a business website, blog, or marketing collateral, it’s always a good idea to ask the author first. Not only is it the courteous thing to do, it will ensure your use of that content falls under the proper and legal terms and conditions.
There are millions of websites out there and I would bet that a good handful are using images they do not own or have permission to use.
** The license for the image used in this post was purchased from: Dreamstime.com