Do you use images from the Web for your projects? Be careful you don’t violate someone’s copyright in the process! You may want to pay particular attention to this post if you are designing your own website or promotional materials.
Recently I came across an image that was being used for a Facebook group, which I instantly recognized as a copyrighted image (details below). At first, I was astonished at the nerve of this guy. Was he seriously trying to defend his right to use the image without permission? Didn’t he understand the severity of copyright infringement? Was he nuts to sit there and argue with me when he was in the wrong?
Then I thought… maybe this isn’t so rare after all. I bet this happens all the time and people don’t even realize they are doing anything wrong! Below is the conversation that ensued through Facebook messages after I discovered the image…
I think the image you are using for this group is copyrighted by Carl Heilman … if you didn’t get his permission to use the image, please remove it. If you do have his permission, the copyright should be noted. Thank you,
I earnestly hope he takes this sound advice… for his own sake. While I’m sure nobody sets out to violate a photographer’s copyright, I doubt they put a lot of effort into making sure the image is OK to use, very much like this Facebook user.
So how do you tell if an image is copyrighted or not? Unless it is marked with a © stamp, it may be difficult to tell. I offer you the same advice I offered this Facebook user: Your best bet is to assume ALL images are copyrighted and to use only those that are specifically labeled as free use public domain images.
And how do you find these images that are OK to use? Probably not with a Google image search! You can easily search and buy stock images for a small fee when you register with sites like istockphoto or dreamstime. Don’t have the budget for purchasing images? Take advantage of Microsoft’s online database of free clip art and images. There is not a whole lot of variety on the site, but hey – you can’t beat free. Sometimes Flickr users will make their images available for free public domain use (but watch out because many Flickr photos are copyright protected as well). Or go out and snap the shot yourself! That way you know it’s 100% OK to use. If you don’t have a good eye for photography, contact us about a photography shoot. There are so many ways to get free-use images that there is never a need to violate someone else’s image copyright.
When in doubt, check it out! If you have found that perfect image and you think it’s probably OK to use, don’t just grab it and assume no one will ever notice. If you are unsure whether it is OK to use or not, always double check. Most sites offer at least one way to contact them, so get in touch and confirm permission. It usually only takes a minute or two, and it’s better safe than sorry!