Creative Common

How To Know If An Image Is Copyrighted?

Images are an extremely important element of any website. Without images, a website is just blocks of text which is simply drudgery to the readers. Bloggers, web and graphic designers, and eCommerce entrepreneurs are constantly on the lookout for eye-catching and innovative images. A beautiful and engaging image boosts site visitors and conversion rates for eCommerce sites. So needless to say, web enthusiasts need to have a continuous supply of images that are going to enrich their web content. Also, they may wonder about “how to know if an image is copyrighted”.

They can have their own production house for making photographs, and graphics design team for retouching and other post-production works. But in most cases, this is costly and time-consuming. So there is a need for alternative sources. When looking for an image for a project, it might be tempting to search for and randomly use a picture from the internet. But this might bring a grievous effect on the website and its owner for copyright infringement. It is extremely important to justify the copyright info of an image before using it to avoid any kind of legal consequences. 

You may also read- Best Image Formats for Photographers and Designers.

What is Copyright?

Copyright is a type of intellectual property that bestows its owner the exclusive right to copy the creative work, for a limited time. Copyright is automatically assigned to the creator as soon as the creative idea is expressed in a tangible form. Based on public interest considerations, copyright has some limitations such as the Fair Use doctrine in the US.

What is Copyright Infringement?

According to the US Copyright Office, generally, copyright infringement occurs when a creative work, which is copyrighted, is reproduced, distributed, performed, publicly displayed, or made into a derivative work without the permission of the copyright owner or the creator.

A creative work of art is generally copyrighted to the creator or owner the moment he/she creates it, though he may officially copyright it later.

Fair Use

Fair Use is the doctrine of law that permits anyone to copy copyrighted material without permission from the owner for limited and “transformative“ purposes, such as to comment upon, criticize, or parody a copyrighted work. Transformative use of a work is generally intended for the purpose of public interests. So in order to qualify as a Fair Use, the public must be benefitted from the copying of the original work. 

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons is a non-profit organization that provides public copyright licenses for users so that they can attribute their work in a proper way. Creators can define what rights they want to share with the public for their copyrighted images. When using a creative commons photo on your website, you must read all the terms of the copyright licenses so that you do not overuse or misuse the images, as these CC images are still copyrighted. Usually,  Creative Commons images can be shared, altered, or reused for either commercial or non-commercial purposes.

Legal Consequences Of Copyright Infringement

Explicit permission should be sought from the owner before putting any visual art of work on any website. Otherwise, there can be severe adverse effects such as lawsuits and fines, etc. Usually, before proceeding to the court, the copyright owner may send a legal notice to stop the unauthorized use of the work on the hoists’ website. Rather, you must adhere to the rules to avoid any monetary damages of a large sum. 

The Process For Checking Copyright Info Of An Image

We can follow some simple steps to ascertain the copyright info of an image. Do not forget to utilize this guideline to evade the hassles later on.

1. Look for the image credit or attribution

If you found an image online, you should search for the image credit or attribution. You may also find out the owner’s email and web address. You may then contact the copyright owner asking permission to use his image on your site or buy the license to reuse or alter.

2. Check for the watermark

Many images on the internet have watermarks associated with them which indicates that they are copyrighted. You should not attempt to remove the watermark using software,  as this will make you liable for violations in the court of law.

3. Check for image’s metadata

Image metadata stores important information about the ownership of the image. To see metadata of an image on windows, just right-click on the image and select properties. On macOS, open the image in preview mode, click on the Tools menu, select “Show Inspector”, and then click ℹ icon.

4. Perform a reverse image search

To find out additional info about the image, you can perform a reverse image search on Google or TinEye. Just provide the URL of the image or upload the image directly from your computer on the search bar. 

You may also read- Fake Image Detector.

5. Search online in the US Copyright Office Database

If you have some info about the image like image title and owner name etc., you can also perform a search in the US Copyright Office online database. Though it might not be necessary since an image is copyrighted by default the moment it was created by the designer or the photographer.

6. If you are not sure, do not use the image

Finally, if you are not absolutely sure about the copyright status of an image, just do not use the image for your project, as this can lead you to untoward situations.

Public Domain Photos

Public domain materials are creative works that are not protected by intellectual property laws such as copyright, trademark, or patent laws. The public, in general, owns these works, not an individual. Anyone can use public domain photos for any purpose, though he/she can not own them.

Below listed are some websites where you can download public domain photos completely free!

  1. Pexels
  2. Pixabay
  3. Unsplash
  5. Kaboompics

To Conclude

Images are an inevitable part of your website content. You need the best quality photos and graphics to make your website attractive and appealing. It might be alluring to use any photo you find on the internet without knowing the copyright info on your website. But you must resist! Please know all the intricacies of copyright law, and find contents that are copyright-free, or use images you own the copyrights. So we hope that you are now well-informed about “how to know if an image is copyrighted”.

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