Using Pictures on the Internet Without getting Sued

Regina Ndze, Fri 28th, Dec 2018, 14:49

Have you ever designed the perfect post for social media, be it for Facebook, web content, a blog post or any other platform, and needed just the perfect image to bring the content together? We all have been there, often times, we would just go straight to google and type in the subject of the picture we are looking for and then download the first picture that pricks our interest and go ahead to post it. 

This is great, only there’s something terribly wrong with this, you may be breaking the law! Ever heard of property rights infringements? Yeah, its almost like stealing. Digitally. And yeah, its as bad as literally walking over to a kid and forcefully taking his candy without permission. Doesn’t make it less wrong because you can’t see the owner of that content. (just saying. Lol) seriously though, huge companies have had major lawsuit and lost a lot of money for using content that is licensed without prior permission.   

Here’s an example: Photojournalist Daniel Morel sued Getty Images and Agence France-Presse for taking and selling photos of the 2010 Haiti earthquake from his Twitter account. Now, although Twitter allows for posting and retweeting, commercial use of photographs posted by users is not allowed.  The outcome was the jury awarding Morel $1.2m in damages. (1.2million dollars!  That is approximately 700, 000,000FCFA! Just think about that figure the next time you download a picture to use without prior consent.)

Why are they important?

No property right infringements. Yup! You don’t get to pay 700,000,000FCFA. Ever! 

Free stock image sites usually have top quality pictures taken by professional photographers, so you can be assured that they’ll look way classier than the pictures you took with your phone or downloaded from someone’s Facebook account. 

They are cheaper (wait, FREE!). Most small businesses and individuals can’t afford to pay a photographer for their social media marketing and content pictures. Free stock images are the best fit for them.

You also have the possibility of getting in various resolutions and sizes, so that reduces some work for you.

How to use them

Search deep. When you’re on a stock image website, you’ll first see the most popular images. While they are popular, they are also overused. You might want to avoid these, and keep scrolling to discover fresher images for your site, article or post.

Keep searching because it’s always best to use photography rather than opting out altogether.

Make a few Changes to the photo to Personalize .The great thing about free stock photos is that you can make slight changes to them to personalize them for your own use.

Watch for the Licenses that apply though… while some of these images don’t require you to credit the author when using it, others do… and using them without crediting is almost as bad as copyright infringement anyways.

You could maybe resize it to fit your purpose, add your logo to it, add some text (but not too much text, please! We don’t want to overcrowd the picture) about your content maybe, to really make it fit the idea your trying to communicate to your audience in a unique way.

Where to get them?

So, now that we’ve learned about free stock images and how to use them, lets go get them! Here are some of our favorite sites for free stock images you could check out for your next post!

So, what is the major lesson of today? Free stock images are awesome! And…  you can add your awesome pictures too for the world to use too. (Or license them, who knows, you might get 700,000,000FCFA ;)