Avoiding copyright problems with online photos
Photos are becoming encouraged to use in social media posts, like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and might interfere with Fair Use laws. In world where copyright lawsuits are getting increasingly popular, it’s simple to avoid this sticky photo situation.
Stock photography agency Dreamstime works with hundreds of photographers and is entrenched in the policies surrounding image copyright laws. The company asserts that getting permission to use a photo on a social networking site. Below are six ways to get permission easily and legally.
6 ways to legally use photos online
Noelle Federico is the Business Manager and CFO of Dreamstime.com, offering the following six ways to avoid copyright issues when using photos online:
- It’s safe to use an image found on the web in a social media post if it is for educational purposes such as a school project commentary or if you are commenting on or criticizing the topic in some way. Such as posting a photo you find on a hurricane and commenting on the damage it did on your FB page. Safety denotes that even when you do these types of posts cite your source giving credit to where you copied the picture from.
- Fair Use Laws operate on a case-by-case basis; there are guidelines which can be found at Copyright.gov. Occurrences of infringement are still judged on a case-by-case basis where intent of the use weighs heavily. Meaning that if you purposefully copied a photographer’s photo and tried to use it for material gain as opposed to using it in a school report your intent may make the difference in a copyright lawsuit judgment.
- If you are posting a photo on the social site of a business it is best to obtain images that you are sure you have the authorization to use. This can be done by purchasing stock photos or utilizing a FREE stock image website or collection. These free sites will have you become a member and then allow you to download without cost from their collections. When you do this you will be certain that you have a license to use the images you are downloading.
- Make sure when you are “searching” the web for photos that you investigate the source of an image before you right-click and copy it. Just because you ‘can’ copy an image that isn’t watermarked does NOT mean that you have the right to use it. Some of the search engines now bring up images and it isn’t easily seen that the images are actually being sourced from sites where they are protected unless you purchase them.
- Take photos yourself or get them from a paid or free source that offers them with a license; you can search images under the ‘Creative Commons license’ which allows for images that the photographers have released for common use as well as Yahoo and Wikipedia have images that can be used for common purposes.
- Bottom-line… use the same courtesy and respect for material found on the web that you would want someone to use with you. If it belongs to someone else ask permission to use it or buy it or license it from a stock site.
Federico offers some great insight into how to use online photos without getting into hot water, so next time you’re ready to get images for your blog or website, follow the rules and avoid nasty letters from the lawyers.