Copyright infringement was a big scary buzz word that you may have heard thrown around in the late 90s (For those of you over the age of 30. Oh God, I’m over 30, when did that happen?) in conjunction with the evil pirate music company, Napster.

The 90’s are over and people are paying for their music once again, and you might wonder how copyright infringement has anything to do with you now.

 All of you content creators, listen up.

With every image you use, you run the risk of finding yourself knee deep in the 6 scariest words we know: copyright infringement, cease and desist, and law suit.

Not shivering in your skivvies? You should be. Take a gander at these real life stories of well meaning business owners and bloggers getting the harsh end of a lawsuit.

 

Legal Lesson Learned: Copywriter Pays $4,000 for a $10 Photo

 

Bloggers Beware: You CAN Get Sued For Using Pics on Your Blog – My Story

 

We know that photos are an essential part of what you do. With half your day spent on social media outlets like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter, using images is one of the biggest ways to get noticed. We humans are a visual bunch.

 So what we’re saying here is, use photos.
Just be smart about it

 

Here are our top tips on how to avoid copyright infringement:

1. Avoid Google Images
No good can come from Google images. Mindlessly right-clicking and downloading an image that you think is free can end up costing you thousands in legal fees.

Not so free now, is it?

 

2. Pay attention to the terms

Most stock photo websites will offer you one of three licenses: royalty free, rights managed, or extended use. The one you buy will be determined by what you plan on doing with the image.

If you’re using an image for blogging or social media, royalty free is the way to go. Feel free to reuse that image as many times as you like.

Creating a magazine ad campaign? You’ll need a rights managed image with the cost based on how many copies of that magazine get published.

Selling a t-shirt with the image printed big and bold on the front? You’ll need an extended use license.

 

3. Understand the definition of Personal Use

In your hunt for the perfect image, you may find a few photos that claim to be free for personal use. If you’re the owner of a blog or a business that makes money, tread lightly, my friend, because this is dangerous ground.

If you can use this image in something that is completely and entirely separate from your business, that you’re making no money off of, what-so-ever, you should be safe. I’m pretty sure that limits you to making birthday cards for your own children.

 

Still not sure if that photo you’re eyeing is legal? This handy dandy flow chart will supply you with the answers you seek.

 

Stock photography may seem a little pricey, but when you take into consideration that the person who took the image you just added to your shopping cart has thousands of dollars in camera and editing equipment, spent thousands of hours of their time refining their skill, and has to bring home the bacon, just like you, five dollars, or even ten is a mere trifle.

While we’ve given you a few definitions and several warnings in this article, we’d hate to leave you without a solution.

Over the past few months, we’ve mentioned Better Than Stock here and there throughout the blog. One of the features that we think will really knock your socks off (especially after reading this post), is that the terms of use are simple.

No worrying over whether or not you’ve chosen the right licensing. You purchase the images, you do what you want with them. Simple as that. (Except resell them, don’t do that. Contact us for extended us terms if that’s something you’re thinking about.)

 

Sample one of the Better Than Stock Photo Collections free. This collection has the same terms as any of our paid collections. Post the photos on social media, feature them as the header on your blog, or at the top of your next email newsletter.

 

Go at it, we give you our permission.