Where do you source images for your website?
How do you attribute them? Proper use of images is an important piece of knowledge for any website owner to have, especially if you would like to avoid possible fines of up to $10k!
No kidding, the fines for improper use of images can range from a couple of hundred dollars to around $10k – not something your business wants to be stung with!
We’d like to tell you a wee story about something that happened to us with regard to use of images on one of our websites… So we had a website built a while back by an outsourced team, and on that website was included some screenshots of other websites which we had helped to build.
We thought nothing more of this for quite some time until, right out of the blue, we were contacted by lawyers saying that we had used licensed images on our site without correct authorization and that we would be up for a fine.
We scratched our heads at this and went back to them: how could this be right? Where were these images on our website that were unauthorized?
Well, it turned out that in one or two of the screenshots showing other websites, images were showing that had been placed on those websites without obtaining the proper rights to do so. Bizarre, yes! But even though we weren’t displaying the images themselves but simply had shots of other websites which did, we were staring down the barrel of a hefty fine.
To cut a long story short, we engaged with the legal representatives for the image’s owner and managed to avoid legal action as long as we took down the offending screen shots of those websites. We know of others however, who have not been so lucky and have ended up paying fines of several hundred dollars.
When you think about it, threats of legal action and hefty fines are really not worth it for the sake of one little image! Perhaps you will be lucky and get away with using images that you have simply plucked off a Google search, but you also need to be aware that many photographers are now embedding code and using tracking software on their images so that they can monitor usage…
Here are four ways to ensure that your use of images is correct and that you avoid a nasty fine:
1. Buy your images!
There are a number of stock photo and other image sites out there that allow you to purchase the license to use their images. Familiarize yourself with the rules for each one (you will often find that you are purchasing a single license so don’t have the right to use the image more than once). Sites you can try include: Dollar Photo Club, iStock Photo, Shutterstock and Canva.
2. Ask Permission
If you find an image which you really love online, try asking the owner if they will give you permission to use it. They may be happy for you to go ahead as long as you correctly attribute the source of the image.
3. Use a ‘Commons’ Site
Creative Commons licenses allow anyone to use the images in that category for free, within certain conditions. While you are licensed to use the photos, the photographer retains a copyright. If you use images under the ‘attribution’ category, you may use any of the images as long as you attribute them correctly to the source. You can do this by referring to them in the image caption or linking back to the original photo. Flickr Commons and Wiki Commons are two places you can look for Creative Commons images.
4. Use your own photos
Of course the safest option of all is to use your own images. Most smart phones now have fairly decent cameras on them, so we suggest grabbing photos of anything you see in your daily travels that could be useful for your website. Alternatively, you could stage scenes at home and take photos of them.
Above all, if you’re tempted to do the old ‘right click’ on that cool image you just found, our message is simple – don’t! Follow the rules for proper use of images and make sure you don’t get stung with a nasty fine!
We hope you enjoyed this as much as we enjoyed creating it for you.
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