Ask The Pro: Where can I get images for my website?

This month’s Pro is our Operations Manager at OnYourMark, LLC. Ellen offers resources for obtaining digital https://www.onyourmark.com/images without infringing on copyrights.

Photos and images are essential to a website. They add interest, excitement and brand awareness. Here is some important terminology to know about photos:

Copyrighted photos are exclusive to their owners and cannot be used without the owner’s permission. Most photos found on the web will have a copyright. The World Intellectual Property Organization has extensive information on photography and legal issues.

Many of us turn to Google’s Image Search or Flickr to find photos. While these sites can retrieve photos on any topic, the photos are usually copyrighted. Google Images photos are pulled from websites across the Internet or posted by users. They belong to the photographers, users, webmasters, site owners or companies that own and operate the websites. Google even posts a warning on its results pages: Image may be scaled down and subject to copyright.

Images found in a Google Image Search are from websites. Consult the website’s copyright policies or contact its webmaster before using the image!

Flickr’s Community Guidelines specifically address use of copyrighted images:

Don’t upload anything that isn’t yours.
This includes other people’s photographs and/or stuff that you’ve collected from around the Internet. Accounts that consist primarily of such collections may be terminated at any time.

RULE OF THUMB: If you didn’t personally take the photograph, chances are you may have to ask permission before use.

If you do find an image on the web and want to use it, check the website’s copyright policies. If nothing is posted, that does not mean there is no copyright on it. The absence of a notice in works published on or after March 1, 1989, does not necessarily indicate that the work is in the public domain. Use the site’s contact form or an email to contact the owner. Often photographers are happy to share photos… as long as you ask and receive permission. Even if you use the photo and cite the source, you are risking copyright infringement if you have not received permission to use it.

Public Domain images are uncopyrighted, uncopyrightable or have a copyright that has expired. Stock.XCHNG and PDphoto.org are popular sources of free images. Photographers post their work to these sites and allow others to use the photos. While the image use is free, some photographers will ask to be notified or credited if their image is used in a public work.

Royalty Free photos can be purchased for web or print use. The purchaser can use the photos as often as allowed according to the source’s license terms. Some licenses allow up to a set number of uses, while others allow unlimited use of the photo.

iStockphoto, Getty Images and Photos.com offer royalty free images for sale. Prices and subscriptions vary widely. iStockphoto charges more for high-resolution images; a better investment because they can be used in print and on the web. Photos.com is a subscription service. Users can download up to 250 photos per day and subscribe for as little as $99.95 for one month.

Royalty free and public domain photos do not guarantee exclusive use. If you purchase an image for your website from iStockphoto, your competitor can also purchase that image and use it. The only way to guarantee exclusivity is to have custom photography done by a professional photographer.

The bottom line is simple… read disclaimers, terms of use, licensing agreements and copyright policies before using any photo you find online!

Links Mentioned in this Article:

What would you like to ask the pro? Email your questions to askthepro@OnYourMark.com!

Phone/Text: 262-853-7900

Organizer, Wisconsin Business Owners

Founder & CEO, OnYourMark, LLC

Author, WebForging, A Practical Guide to the Art of Forging Your Web Presence

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