[Updated in February 2023]
Bloggers, web designers, and content creators are looking for high-quality and compelling images day and night. Though the internet is full of such images, it is not wise to use any images found on the internet hastily to avoid image copyright. Before doing so, the person or entity must confirm the copyright info of the image. Using copyrighted materials in personal or professional projects without proper actions can make you liable for “Copyright Infringement”. “Copyright Infringement” has several legal and monetary consequences associated with it including cease and desist notice, court appearance, and paying statutory damages to the content owners. So you must take every precaution necessary to avoid image copyright.
Image copyright is a crucial aspect to consider when using images online. It is important to be aware of copyright laws and to properly obtain the necessary permissions to use an image. Well! There are various ways to avoid image copyright infringement, including using public domain images, creating original images, seeking permission, and using Creative Commons-licensed images with proper attribution.
So, here are some guidelines for image and web users to avoid image copyright. Hopefully, it will help you doing the best use of your images without getting affected.
To avoid copyright infringement, it is absolutely necessary to have an in-depth understanding of copyright law. Copyright law varies in different legislations in different states and countries. In general, copyright law protects creative works of art such as paintings, photographs, illustrations, musical compositions, sound recordings, computer programs, books, poems, blog posts, movies, architectural works, plays, and so much more! It gives exclusive rights to the owner of the copyright to reproduce or copy the work of art.
Public domain images do not have any copyright primarily, or the copyright has already expired for them. The images can also be included in the public domain with a Creative Commons (CC0) license. Anyone can use public domain images for commercial and noncommercial purposes. There are several websites that list quality and eye-catching public domain images including Unsplash and Pexels.
Paid licensing is the process of buying usage rights from the copyright owner of an image. The copyright owner controls the terms and conditions of the license. The images can be bought this way from the stock photo websites such as Shutterstock and Gettyimages. Paid licensing can be an affordable way to get images for online projects as the pieces of equipment and setup for professional photography can be costly.
Google now has an updated image search that you can utilize to know the copyright info of an image. Follow the steps on Google to find out which images you can use for free or which images require a license to use.
Additionally, Google now also provides information about how to obtain licenses for an image. Note that, google only provides licensing information for the images if the creator or publisher already provided these details. Besides this one, there are also some fake image detectors to let you know if the images are manipulated/edited or not.
If you want to use a copyrighted image on your website, you can ask for permission from the owner. First, you need to identify what kind of rights you would need for the proposed photo, for example how you would use the photo, for how long you would use it, etc. Sometimes the owner might want payment for granting the agreement. Keep the agreement in writing since it will work as a license for future reference. Save it carefully to avoid any future hassles regarding copyright aspects.
Sometimes the copyright owner might just want you to add a credit or attribution for his/her work instead of asking for payment. In that case, you have to mention the name of the owner and provide a link back to the original work. In any case, you should a written proof of permission for future reference.
If you have the time and resources to take your own or design them by yourself, then this might be the best option to do so. It is always 100% safe, and you have full control over being creative and ingenious.
Fair Use is a doctrine of law in the United States that permits the use of copyrighted materials for limited and transformative purposes, such as to comment upon, criticize or parody an original work, without the permission of the copyright owner. In other words, fair use is just a defense against a copyright infringement claim. But, the trap is you do not have any control over what falls in the category of “fair use”. In case of a copyright infringement claim, only the court can decide which uses can be considered fair use. So try not to use copyrighted material under the umbrella of fair use.
If you are a beginner in content creation, and you find it difficult to understand copyright law and other related aspects in your jurisprudence, you may want to take help from a professional copyright lawyer. He/she may guide you step by step throughout the process.
You can convert a raster image into a vector in illustrator and then may use it on your website without violating the copyrights. These might be a clever way to deceive the copyright claims. However, you should always try to use the original images to be on the safe side.
Creative Commons licenses are public copyright licenses that allow the free distribution of copyrighted materials under certain conditions. There are several types of Creative Commons licenses, so you may want to make sure what usage rights are allowed under the particular CC license your proposed photo has. If you are not sure, you may want to use photos only with Creative Commons CC0 licenses, as they are completely free without any restrictions whatsoever.
If you want to use a copyrighted image on your project, you may want to creatively manipulate the image to alter it substantially. But take note that no matter how much you alter the image, it still depends on the court’s decision whether the image violates the copyright.
People post numerous photos each day on various social media sites including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and so on. While it might be tempting to use photos from your friends’ timelines without their explicit consent, to avoid legal hassles you would better try to know if an image is copyrighted and if possible take written consent.
Finally, if you are uncertain about the copyright of a particular image, you would better avoid using the image on your personal or professional projects as this might lead you to legal problems later on. Copyright infringement can take a toll on you such as court hearings, monetary damages, etc.
To protect a company’s brand image and reputation, it is very important to avoid image copyright infringement by any means. The litigation and other associated repercussions can defame your company severely. We have shared the most up-to-date ways to avoid copyright infringement. You can have it on your reference when working with copyrights.