Maintaining your reputation as a Designer, Blogger, or Webmaster is very important for your popularity. You must be trustworthy if you wish to sell your business or message. Part of trustworthiness is in the fair use of images you acquire. In this article I will outline some general rules about what you can and cannot do with that image you just acquired, and what images you should not to attempt to acquire at all.
The Free Image
Beware the image you found in Google Images, Flikr, or somewhere else on the internet. This might seem obvious to most readers. But we often see images from other sources being used without permission. Just because an image does not have a copyright notice on it or under it does not give you the right to use that image for your own purposes. In fact doing so may get you into hot water if the person who created the image catches you. With tools such as TinEye, it is getting easier to track image usage across the internet.
If you do find an image which you absolutely must use for your website, contact the webmaster and find out who owns the image. Get written permission from the artist or photographer, and you will be good to go!
The Stock Image
Designers generally purchase images from a source of stock photos and artwork. More bloggers are following this route too. It is certainly the preferred route. The image quality of a purchased image tends to be far superior to the free image, and the license you receive with each image purchased keeps your activities legal.
However purchasing an image does not mean you can do whatever you please with it. Fair usage of images is spelled out in the the license agreement which you are paying for. It tends to vary from one artist to another, and from one stock agency to another. But in general they tend to be very similar in nature.
There are some very obvious rules, but unfortunately not everyone follows them. If your friend purchased an image for use in her blog, she cannot give the image to you to use in your blog. The license is for the person who purchased it. If anyone else want to use it, they must purchase their own license.
Differences in image usage licenses tend to crop up when you are about to embark on a major project. Let’s say you are working on a print project (magazine, brochure, etc). If your circulation is very small, your license should cover it. However let’s say you have a large circulation magazine or brochure which will require more than 250,000 copies. You will almost certainly need an “Extended License” to legally use the image.
If you plan to use the image for re-sale of another item, an Extended License will certainly be required. An example of this is putting the image on a mug or shirt, and selling the item. Extended Licenses are also required if you wish to use the image as a wallpaper, screen saver, or web template.
The Extended License
Extended Licenses greatly increase your rights to fairly use the image. The cost is considerably more than a regular license purchase, but often it is more than worth it. Think about it. Say you find a fantastic image for potential usage in a nationwide brochure. At a cost of $100 or so, the Extended License seems like quite a deal. The amount of additional business your brochure will bring you should make the initial cost of the image license look like mere pennies.
Same thing if you found an image which would make for a fantastic t-shirt. If you profit $5 for each t-shirt sold, then you will break even after only 20 sales. If your t-shirt idea is a strong one, you might have thousands of sales. In which case you will profit hugely from buying the Extended License.
The Highest Cost
The highest cost comes from trying to play it as cheaply as possible. Using an image you found on the internet without permission, giving an image you purchased to someone else to use, or abusing the image license, will cost you thousands of dollars if convicted. It will also cost you your reputation, and that is huge in the digital age.
We are committed to helping you build your business or blog through image usage, and to succeed beyond your wildest expectations! If you ever have a question about image usage, we are here to help.
- Dan Padavona, Warmpicture