If you think that you can just grab any picture that you’d like off the Internet, you’re wrong and in big trouble if you get caught. It’s called Copyright Infringement.
Don’t let this happen to you! A photographer has the right to sue for copyright infringement!
I’ve had 3 of my past clients be caught with pictures on their websites or blogs that were downloaded from the web that were not free-use graphics. (Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. If you are being sued for copyright infringement, consult an attorney in your state.)
Two had to settle a copyright infringement suit, one for $2500 and another for $5000. The photographer has absolutely every right to sue. The latest one got lucky. She accidentally grabbed a picture from Getty Images and they only wanted $249, which would be the cost from the time the page was created till the picture was removed.
If you find a picture online that would be perfect to use on your site, first see where it came from. Who’s the photographer or graphic artist that created it. Does it have a watermark? (text across the picture). What are the usage rights?
To use Google Images, click on “Tools“, then “Usage Rights“, then “Labeled for Reuse“. If you’re planning on adding text or changing the picture at all, then choose “Pictures Labeled for Reuse with Modification.” When you click on the picture, see where it’s from. If it’s from Flickr, click on it to see what are the licenses rights of that particular photographer. You may have to give the photographer credit (attribution) and a link to his or her page on Flickr.
On Bing it’s a little bit different.
Do your search, then on the far right, click on Filters, then License, then choose the appropriate one for your needs.
If you don’t want to take the chance that you don’t have a free-use graphic, check out these sites where you can get FREE, license-free pictures and graphics:
- https://pixabay.com/ (my personal favorite)
- Also, anything from Wikipedia is public domain.
If you’re sharing a picture that’s already on one of the social networks within that same network, you’re OK. You’re not on your own platform (website), you’re on theirs and each network has its own usage rights. If you have more questions on copyright infringement, check out Ruth Carter’s YouTube channel. She’s an Arizona lawyer who specializes in IP (intellectual property) law and she shares a lot of great information.