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Do’s and Don’ts of Using Images Online

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Do's and Don'ts of Images Online

It’s my worst nightmare in business.

An email or legal papers telling me that an image I used was under copyright. Now I not only have to stop using it, I owe hundreds – or thousands – of dollars.

It happens to people a lot, simply because they don’t take proper steps and precautions when using images.

How do you avoid finding yourself in this situation?

Don’t: Simply Use an Image You Find on Google

I know, I know, Google Image Search is FULL of exciting images that would be perfect for your blog post or online project.

But those images don’t belong to you – and they DO belong to someone else.

Using an image you don’t own is theft, plain and simple, and it can get you in legal and financial trouble.

Do: Save the Link from a Free Image

Perhaps you’ve used a free image and given proper credit. You’re not quite done.

Be sure to save the link that you got it from. Not just the name of the site, but the actual link.

I’ve had a friend who was threatened with legal action over an image from a free image site. She didn’t have the link she’d used, and the site no longer had the image.

She was able to resolve it, but you can bet she saves links now – every time. 

Don’t: Automatically Pay Every Demand Email

This is really important. Not every demand email you get is legitimate. Even when it is, you may be able to simply take the image down and move on.

Don’t be afraid of threats of legal action. The demanding entity must prove that they own the copyright before you owe a dime. The emails they send are simply threats and are often predatory toward small business owners.

Getty is especially well known for these bullying practices. Here is a great article for how to deal with a Getty Demand Letter. There are many additional resources online for this as well.

Do: Pay Appropriately for Images You Want

If you run a blog or regularly do projects that require images, get a subscription to a reputable image site. Examples include Fotolia, Shutterstock, Adobe Stock Images, or IClipart.com.

You can use the images from those sites without fear of repercussion because you’re paying for the license you need.

Don’t use unknown sites or a subscription that seems too good to be true. They may be stealing images themselves and charging you for access. The result could be that you are liable for using a copyrighted image.

Do: Create Images For Yourself

Not an artist? No worries! I love Stencil for creating images with ease.

It’s super easy to use, and you can create images very quickly. I know your time is valuable, which is why I think this is such a great tool.

Whether you’re trying to post on Facebook or Instagram, having your own images will ensure that you don’t have copyright demands. (Of course, you have to protect your images from others, too.)

If you don’t want to do that, you can purchase images and printing services through a professional. At Printerbees, we not only have templates for business cards, postcards, and more, but we offer professional design services as well.

It’s Easy to Use Images Appropriately

Using images correctly on your blog, social media, and print marketing isn’t hard. It’s simply about a little bit of smarts and a little bit of investment.

Don’t use everything you see online. Buy or create the images you need. And finally, don’t be bullied by predatory companies.

Have you ever faced a problem with images? How did you solve it? Share in the comments!

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