Avoid Using Online Images Without Permission

The easy bit

Us humans are visual creatures and form our first impressions within seconds. 

Most of us who are regular social media users already know that posts with images receive far more likes, shares and retweets than those that don't. And the same goes for Blogs. Those with interesting, high quality images receive 94 percent more views than blogs without. 

It's up to you to take advantage of this! 

Where it becomes complicated

If you're careless about where you obtain images, you may inadvertently violate copyright laws and end up being subject to hefty fees. A document worth reading is the UK Intellectual Property Office's Copyright Notice, aimed at small businesses and individuals who may wish to use digital or photographic images on the web. It does, however, contain a mindblowing amount of information!

To make things a bit clearer, we've put together some helpful tips to help you avoid being liable for using an image without proper permission. 

1. Use free stock image sites with caution.

Free image sites (of which there are many) contain images uploaded onto the site by individuals who, once they've committed their work to the free image site, waive all rights to the image.

While you can download images for free and use them without restriction on these sites, be warned there is still no firm guarantee of the image's copyright status.

Here are some of the free stock image sites:

2. Always check an image's 'background' before using.

A quick background search on an image can help alert you to its copyright status. Known as a 'Reverse Image Search', you can discover where else the image is being used and, quite often, can find the original image source.

You can carry out a reverse image search very simply using the following tools:

3. Royalty-free doesn't mean it's 'free!'

Chargeable image sites contain royalty-free and copyright images. While royalty-free images allow pretty much unlimited use, you MUST comply with the terms of the licence agreement. 

Sites such as iStockphoto or Shutterstock make your rights and responsibilities quite clear; you pay for the rights to use the image and no attribution is required.

There are, of course, many other chargeable stock image sites including:

Let's cut to the chase 

If you decide on the free route (and, why not?!) ​make sure you use due diigence when choosing images, particularly if you plan to use them for commercial purposes. 

The advantages of using paid image sites include a wider selection of high quality images to choose from and, more importantly, they offer peace of mind that you’re not infringing on anyone’s copyright. 

Better still, if you're in a position to do so, commission a professional photographer and build up your own stock of high quality images.

Disclaimer: The information in this blog post is provided for general informational purposes only.

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