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6 ways to legally and easily use photos online

Do you know if you have permission to use photos online or are you leaving it up to chance when you use an image on your blog or website? Here are six ways to stay on the right side of the law.

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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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

The American Genius is news, insights, tools, and inspiration for business owners and professionals. AG condenses information on technology, business, social media, startups, economics and more, so you don’t have to.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Troy Herman

    April 16, 2013 at 1:14 pm

    Getting used to following your posts and information lately.. seems that as I spread them to others, they like it as well (hope you get some good traffic out of it). This was a good one to share with my friends who are always asking about my pictures, information, and others… thanks!

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Social Media

Red flags to help you spot a bad social media professional

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Social Media is a growing field with everyone and their moms trying to become social media managers. Here are a few experts’ tips on seeing and avoiding the red flags of social media professionals.

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Social media professionals, listen up

If you’re thinking about hiring a social media professional – or are one yourself – take some tips from the experts.

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We asked a number of entrepreneurs specializing in marketing and social media how they separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to social media managers, and they gave us some hints about how to spot whose social media game is all bark and no bite.

You can tell a lot from their socials

According to our experts, the first thing you should do if you’re hiring a social media professional is to check out their personal and/or professional social media pages.

Candidates with underwhelming, non-existent, out-of-date, or just plain bad social media pages should obviously get the chop.

“If they have no professional social presence themselves, that’s a big red flag,” says Chelle Honiker, executive director at the Texas Freelance Association. Another entrepreneur, Paul O’Brien of Media Tech Ventures, explains that “the only way to excel is to practice…. If you excel, why would you not be doing so on behalf of your personal brand?”

In other words, if someone can’t make their own social media appealing, how can they be expected to do so for a client?

Other taboos

These pros especially hated seeing outdated icons, infrequent posts, and automatic posts. Worse than outdated social media pages were bad social media pages. Marc Nathan of Miller Egan Molter & Nelson provided a laundry list of negative characteristics that he uses to rule out candidates, including “snarky,” “complaining, unprofessional” “too personal” “inauthentic,” and “argumentative.”

Besides eliminating candidates with poor social media presence, several of these pros also really hated gimmicky job titles such as “guru,” “whiz,” “ninja,” “superhero,” or “magician.”

They were especially turned off by candidates who called themselves “experts” without any proof of their success.

Jeff Fryer of ARM dislikes pros who call themselves experts because, he says “The top leaders in this field will be the first to tell you that they’re always learning– I know I am!” Steer clear of candidates who talk themselves up with ridiculous titles and who can’t provide solid evidence of their expertise.

How do you prove it?

According to our experts, some of them don’t even try. To candidates who say “’Social media can’t be measured,’” Fryer answer “yes it can[. L]earn how to be a marketer.” Beth Carpenter, CEO of Violet Hour Social Marketing, complains that many candidates “Can’t talk about ROI (return on investment),” arguing that a good social media pro should be able to show “how social contributes to overall business success.” Good social media pros should show their value in both quantitative and qualitative terms.

While our experts wanted to see numerical evidence of social media success, they were also unimpressed with “vanity metrics” such as numbers of followers.

Many poo-pooed the use of followers alone as an indicator of success, with Tinu Abayomi-Paul of Leveraged Promotion joking that “a trained monkey or spambot” can gather 1,000 followers.

Claims of expertise or success should also be backed up by references and experience in relevant fields.

Several entrepreneurs said that they had come across social media managers without “any experience in critical fields: marketing, advertising, strategic planning and/or writing,” to quote Nancy Schirm of Austin Visuals. She explains that it’s not enough to know how to “handle the technology.” Real social media experts must cultivate “instinct borne from actual experience in persuasive communication.”

Freshen up

So, if you’re an aspiring social media manager, go clean up those pages, get some references, and figure out solid metrics for demonstrating your success.

And if you’re hiring a social media manager, watch out for these red flags to cull your candidate pool.

#RedFlag

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Social Media

Instagram re-posting can get your company into deep trouble

(SOCIAL MEDIA) This blowup over a shared Instagram pic is why many companies are doing their due diligence to not land in hot water.

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Can’t ignore it

The perfect Instagram shot is social media gold.

For a business, this is especially true if that shot demonstrates a product or service of theirs. Many of us walk around with the attitude of “Eh, it’s out there” and don’t give serious consideration to the sharing or tagging of our pictures by celebrities or businesses (heck, I think it’s rather flattering).

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Sharing is caring?

Entrepreneurs and small business owners should embrace that the best advertising is free: real people sharing real successes that cost no money to produce. I certainly understand and support any business who wants to use smart social media skills to make money and expand the customer base.

That being said, there are some times you need to really consider the use of your photos, and certainly a lot of businesses are giving thought to asking users about them.

This post captures a bad experience with a company who shared a photographer’s image and didn’t particularly care for that photographer’s response.

tl;dr: Max makes a most excellent case (Instagram’s terms of service would demand that you are responsible for paying the royalties of any image you post, after all).

Take action

A majority of companies are asking before using media for a few reasons because it’s not just the polite thing to do, it’s the legal thing to do. Whether or not you’re a professional photographer or a creative professional, you own the content of that post to Instagram, with some small concessions to Instagram itself.

Now, you need to exercise that right, but copyright privileges are not an exclusive power of the MPAA or any major media company.

You have some leniency as well. You may choose to let one company use your media and charge another; it’s within your rights to decide how you want that media to be shared. If someone is using content on Instagram and not crediting you, or using an image without your permission,report it.

This is another consideration if the production of photos or videos is part of your job. Making money off of content that you don’t own without permission is illegal, and small time photographers or image creators should be vigilant about ensuring their content is providing for them, not just someone else. The law is on your side, and for some additional information about registering your copyright for artists, here you go.

A lot of businesses are doing a great job using social media posts from customers, and that’s a trend that no matter how big or small, the businesses will and should continue.

Don’t be lame

Key rules here: respect and follow the wishes of the person who created that media. Whether it’s about money, or even something more intangible, businesses should respect social media convention and talk to their customers about how they want to use their media, how that person feels about that media being used, and of course, always crediting the original creator (unless you sell them the image in a contract).

Following the law, social media terms of service, and online decency is a trend everyone should be on.

#sharesmart

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Social Media

Don’t let your Instagram vanish without a trace – have a backup plan

(SOCIAL MEDIA) In a weird glitch, multiple Instagram accounts vanished out of thin air. Don’t be stuck up the InstaVanish creek without a paddle… or at least a backup in place.

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Poof, gone

Can you imagine being locked out of your own Instagram account for no rhyme or reason? Well, dozens of people just found out, and they are PISSED.

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Thankfully, we’ve got a solution to make sure you don’t lose out if it happens to you.

First, some context

According to coverage from Consumerist, “Several Instagram users began complaining about the disabled or deleted accounts on Twitter today [July 6], noting that they received no warning or explanation for why their accounts were no longer active. The affected accounts appear to cover a wide range of users, from business owners, to fan and personal accounts.”

Via Twitter, Instagram did acknowledge a known bug causing the issue and said, “we’re working to resolve this as quickly as possible.”

However, the response came hours after complaints began, possibly because the issue allegedly affected a very small number of user accounts.

Furthermore, while Instagram gave instructions to users on how to reconfirm their identities and recover their account, they aren’t guaranteed to work.

So, bearing all that in mind, we here at American Genius recommend backing up your entire account in order to preserve your content.

Use what they give you

If you still have access to your account, you can utilize Instagram’s recently-launched Archive function. This lets you take photos off public view without removing them from your account; only you will be able to see them.

However, this does you no good if you’re already locked out, nor does it save posts that are publically available.

For that reason, we recommend a third-party backup option for your profile content.

A’int no party like a third party

You have a few different options. Our favorite one utilizes IFTT (If This, Then That). Using this automation tool, you can write a conditional function that says if you post a new photo to Instagram, it will automatically be sent to a cloud drive, such as Google Drive, OneDrive or Dropbox.

Along with the benefit of multiple storage options, we love this solution because you can set it and forget it.

That being said, it is not a complete solution; IFTT will ONLY backup up new photos, instead of old ones. To backup your entire collection of old memories, Instaport seems to be a crowd favorite.

Instaport is a free service that lets you download a backup of your entire account.

Once you download this backup, you could upload it to your preferred cloud storage provider, then set IFTTT to send future backups into that same folder.

Better safe than sorry

Using these tips, you can avoid being a total victim of an Instagram screw-up. Hopefully, this recent one will resolve shortly.

#InstaVanish

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