When you start using visual marketing to promote your blog, it is important to learn about the laws surrounding using images. There are many misconceptions and if you have any misunderstanding and you violate a copyright law (knowingly or unknowingly), it can cost a lot of money. You don’t want that, so read and learn.

Yes, You Can Be Sued

Using a copyrighted image without permission can cost you a lot of time and money, even if you didn’t know it was a copyrighted image. For example, if you got the image from a royalty free site, and thought it was legal but it wasn’t, you’re still liable. This is why free sites are so dangerous. What’s more, even if you remove the image when told, you can still be sued due to having used the image. The fees can add up to thousands of dollars.

So, keep the following in mind as you use pictures:

You cannot use a picture without permission – period. You cannot give the photographer credit and think that’s fine. It’s not. You cannot change the picture and call it “fair use”; it’s not. You can’t use the image if your website is not for commercial use. You cannot use the image even if it’s embedded from their server. You can’t use the image even with a disclaimer on your blog.

In short, you cannot use the image for any reason without permission. And, even if you remove it when someone requests you to, you can still end up having to pay for using it, even if it was only for a few minutes. If they have proof, then you’re out of luck.

Here is where you can get photos that are okay to use:

  • Creative Commons Images – Creative Commons licensed pictures are fine to use, but do read the terms as there are restrictions about how you can use them and how you must credit the owner of the image.
  • Public Domain Images – No, this doesn’t mean if the image is online it’s in the public domain; this is a legal term that describes images where the original copyright has run out and now the image is free for the public to use with restrictions.
  • Paid Stock Photo Sites – You can buy images to be the most safe when it comes to copyright of images. However, keep in mind that you still cannot use the image however you want to. You need to read all the terms of service and follow it religiously.
  • Take Your Own Images – This is by far the best way to ensure that your blog has legal images on it. You can be sure that your images are legal. Most mobile devices have perfectly good cameras for images you’ll use online. You already have photo editing software on your computer and in the cloud through Canva.com and others that will work perfectly fine for your needs.

It’s always best to assume any image has a copyright of some kind. If you’re not totally sure about the state of the image, or the terms of service, don’t use the image. It’s important that everyone respects the intellectual property of others. After all, would you want someone to take and use your hard work for free?

Using Visuals and Copyright Laws
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