We all know that pictures can be worth “a thousand words” when they give context to your blog posts and articles. At at no time could this be truer than in our very visual digital world. However, the pictures you use can also be worth a lot of money to the people who decide to sue you for copyright infringement because you used them without their permission.
It might surprise you to learn that there are countless companies out there still using images they plucked off Google to help them make the most out of their digital presence. Unfortunately, a lot of brands simply don’t understand copyright law and how it applies to photos presented in a public area, like the internet. The unfortunate fact is that something as simple as a standard picture of Nebraska could be enough to cost you $8,000 in damages – not to mention legal fees.
The Importance of Using “FREE” Images in Content
Most website owners and content creators know the value of using images in their content. The right pictures can make your articles more compelling, help your audience to understand what you’re talking about, and even break up a wordy post. Human beings are naturally wired to respond well to images – that’s one of the reasons why visual marketing is so effective.
Unfortunately, most companies don’t have the time or the finances to hire a photographer to go out and snap photos for every blog post they want to publish. Unless you happen to have a design expert working for you in-house, then you’ve probably found yourself looking for “free” images online in the past. The trouble is – some of the pictures you think are free may come with copyrights attached to them – and you might not even be aware of it.
Remember, simply saying you got the image from another website doesn’t make you any less vulnerable to legal problems.
How Does Copyright Apply to Images Online?
You’ve probably seen the little “c” indicating that something is protected by a copyright in the past. However, most pictures don’t come with this indicator. Instead, you have to simply assume that anything you see online is owned by someone – unless expressly stated otherwise. If you use someone’s work without their permission or take a picture that belongs to someone else and places it on your website – they have the right to sue you – regardless of whether you take the picture down in the future.
That’s a pretty big concern for most marketers in a world where 37% of professionals say that visual content is the most important form of content for their business – second to blogging. The question is, how can you make sure that you’re not using something that’s already been copyrighted? The first step is getting an education into copyright law and what it means to your image hunting practices online. This infographic on photography copyright laws will tell you everything you need to know about visual copyrights and how to avoid them.
Once you’ve begun to build your education, make sure that you’re only using pictures that you take from a free-to-use website that’s specifically designed to share royalty and copyright-free images.
David Coen (Design Wizard)