Copyright Law for Blog (And Facebook) Images

Find Images for Your Blog - Copyright

Think about blog posts you like to read. I’m sure they include at least one photo. Food bloggers often have many to guide you through the process. Tech blogs like to show you the sleek new item. DIY blogs often hold your hand along the way using photos. It makes sense to include at least one image; if not for your blog reader, then to generate a thumbnail and use a picture to generate more comments and interaction on Facebook or Pinterest.

But where to get these pictures and images for your blog or Facebook? Unless you need to document a process or a specific item you own, it’s not always easy to find the right photo to use. It may seem easy to head to your favorite browser and type in a few key words and click on an image search and see what it returns. Likely you’ll get thousands of photos from which to choose.

But wait! Who owns those photos? Do you have permission to use them? What could happen if you use a photo without permission?

Maybe those questions didn’t pop into your head, but they should. Unless a photo or image is in the public domain, you should assume it’s covered by copyright. And while there are instances where copyright Fair Use may allow you to use their image, chances are it doesn’t. And while Creative Commons licenses are great, you really need to understand what the licenses mean and realize if you monetize your blog then you’re a commercial use and may not be permitted to use the image you want.

The internet has made finding images much easier, but at the same time more risky. Thousands of the images you would find using a browser search often turn up stock photos. Many people shun stock photography thinking it is too expensive.  In fact, professional bloggers often use stock photography for its convenience and guarantee they won’t have to deal with problems related to image copyright. Copyright infringement can be very expensive in dollars, time, and the emotional costs.

5 Ways Bloggers Can Benefit From Using Stock Photography

  1. Guaranteed Legal using a reputable stock photo site like Dreamstime, you will never have to worry about getting an email notifying you that you’re using a copyrighted image without permission. Copyright infringement can cause your blog to be taken down, require you to pay for using the images, or both.
  2. Variety – often it’s not the cute photos of babies we need, it’s the professional graphics or more “cerebral” image that we know will give the post that added punch. For a small fee, stock photography gives bloggers access to hundreds of images that will make their post stand out.
  3. Professionalism – if you’re trying to set yourself apart from your competition, the best way to do that is to raise the bar with your work. Why settle for an image that isn’t really relevant or puts your blog at risk when a stock photo would add that professional punch.
  4. Time Savingslooking for just the right photo using a browser, vetting the ones you think will work, sending an email to get permission or hoping the copyright holder won’t find out you’re using their image all require time, something that is very precious these days. Rather than spending 30 minutes searching, with a few keystrokes the right professional photo with appropriate copyright permission is ready for download.
  5. Value – A free photo might be great, but is it worth the risk? Even photos covered by a creative commons license pose problems because there is absolutely no guarantee the copyright holder is the one offering the image for others to use. With the other 4 factors combined, for just a few dollars you can get a high quality image that was, more than likely, professionally created. By spending a little money to upgrade your blog images you may attract attention from advertisers, PR professionals, or brand reps wanting to work with you.

Just because you find an image online doesn’t mean it’s free for the taking. Adding a link back or giving credit do not relieve you from liability for copyright infringement. Your goals for your blog probably don’t include handling DMCA takedown notices, responding to demand letters, or damage control if you’re found to have used a copyrighted image on your blog without proper permission. The belief that stock photography is too expensive or only for big businesses is changing. Many bloggers are using stock photography as a way to make it easier to find images that not only work well on their blog but are more “share-worthy” on social networks.

What are your thoughts on using stock photographs on your blog? If you’ve used stock photos, what made you make that choice?

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Dreamstime contacted Melanie and asked her to write an article encouraging bloggers and other social media professionals to use copyrighted images. Because of Melanie’s schedule she invited Sara Hawkins to write the article. Melanie received 30 image downloads from Dreamstime in exchange for this article.