That’s all we have to say. Do not do it. You absolutely, positively cannot just take any image you find on Google and use it on a website, social media or a blog post. You would NEVER consider just taking that nice car you saw on the street, right? Or admire a diamond necklace in a jewelry store window, then remove it from its display and wear it. Or decide to build a house on a random piece of property, just because you like the way it overlooks a lovely stream.
Photography, like cars, jewelry, or land, is PRIVATE PROPERTY. Private intellectual property. That photo was taken by a person, using his or her own time, talent, training, and equipment. That photo is owned by its artist/creator or the company that represents that photographer’s work. Photographers and stock photo companies make their living by selling photos and/or licensing the use of images. These images are sold at very reasonable rates, even just a few dollars, through numerous, legal, online stock photo companies. Photographers and stock photo companies deserve to get paid for their work. You get paid for your work, right?
Sometimes photographers offer their photos copyright free and with no restrictions for public use. But you MUST be sure this is the case before using any image you “find” online, or use any image you scan and then use online. Because using a photo from Google IS stealing. Even if it’s marked on Google Images as “Labeled for Reuse,” you’ll see the fine print UNDER all of those photos: “Images may be subject to copyright.” Yes, even the ones from Wikipedia. It’s not yours. Hands off.
Can I get away with it?
Nope. Besides being unethical, many images are typically embedded with a code. Photographers retain attorneys to track these codes, find their images on the internet, and fine the violators. They give no warnings, no second chances. You owe them. These fees can range from $200-$1000 and up, per stolen image, depending on the company and the photographer.
Getty is particularly good at tracking their work. DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT use unlicensed Getty images, even the grainy, low-resolution versions, with the company watermark embedded. Getty WILL find you, get you, and collect money from you. And it’s 100% fair because they are responsible for protecting their photographers’ intellectual property. If you have an image of questionable origin on your site, remove it altogether, from the front and back end of your website. Do it now.
How do I do it the right way?
Simply buy your images fair and square, or consider using images from the sites listed below. As of this writing, these firms allow the use of their photos for free or for a small charge. Avoid legal entanglements. Life is complicated enough without opening your world to litigation over a picture of cheesecake or a butterfly or whatever!
Here are some useful definitions:
What is a stock photo?
A stock photo is an electronic photograph used for creative or business purposes. Stock photos are often used instead of hiring a photographer to shoot a particular image or scene. Stock photos are widely available from a myriad of stock photo websites. These sites license images for one-time use or sell the rights to use their photos under certain conditions. Often, one can purchase a photo and use it repeatedly. Other times, the image can only be used once, and for specific purposes only. You MUST READ the details.
What is royalty-free?
Royalty-free refers to a licensing method under which image rights are sold at a flat rate for almost any usage: print, web, email, and more. Often you can use these images repeatedly, but remember that is NOT always the case. Read the fine print.
What is rights-managed?
Rights-managed licensing typically restricts how the image will be used, including the length of time the photo may be used, the geographical region the photo can appear in, the media it’s being used in, and other criteria. Sometimes even 100% free images have restrictions; for example, you can use the photo for non-commercial use ONLY. This means that if you’re a business, hands off that photo!
Here are some great, very well-priced and free stock image companies.
For about $1-6 per image or less, you can get zillions of great photos, illustrations, vector images and more to use on your news and blog posts, for your Facebook page, for your website and more.
Here are some companies we use and recommend. Some charge, some don’t. Some have images for free as well as for sale.
Rules change all the time, so be sure to read and follow the rules. And please, don’t steal.
One last thought, HIRE a photographer!
There are many people who are professional photographers in your area. A Google search will result in some hits. Check them out. Their rates may be MUCH more affordable than you think, and they can take photos of you, your business, your stuff and more. Ain’t NOTHING like the real thing, baby! If you’re in the Hudson Valley NY area, contact us for some photographers who are easy to work with and will provide you with some really great and LEGAL images.
Note: image used here is from https://depositphotos.com/ Cost $1. I’m happy to be legal AND support the arts and the photographer/ actor/ lighting person…