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Why you should be concerned about image copyright
“The matter of the fact is that if someone else has created that image, then they hold legal rights to it and any instances of it being stolen and used illegally can be quite damaging for that person.”
This is a royalty free image sourced from the creative commons - *not* Google Images. Also, I just like horses.
Now, back to business
You're creating a new page for your website, but you need an inspiring image to capture your audience and draw them in to reading the copy... So naturally you open up a new tab, and type in what you're looking for in to Google image search.
Stop. Right. There.
What you're doing right now, when you Google search an image and then use it for your site, is stealing someone else's creative property and it's illegal.
The laws around image copyright are well defined, but their enforcement remains fairly quiet, and this leads people to believing that they can use any image they like on their website or blog, without any ramifications.
There are plenty of excuses people make about using stolen images for their website, but none of these excuses are legally sound, and none will hold up in court. The thing is - you never know when you will be caught, and the consequences for being found out for using someone else's artwork can be extremely damaging, especially for a small business.
Take The Content Factory, for example, who used a happy snap of Nebraska that they stole from Google for one of their client's websites and ended up with an $8,000 lawsuit. This was only one image, imagine if your business was caught out for using multiple stolen images across your website - could it send you in to bankruptcy?
Not only this, but Google announced in 2012 that they would be penalising websites for copyrighted images, meaning your search engine rankings may suffer if they find you're using stolen images.
The matter of the fact is that if someone else has created that image, then they hold legal rights to it and any instances of it being stolen and used illegally can be quite damaging for that person, especially if they are an artist or photographer who is using their artwork as a means of income.
Often people don't think about the damage they're doing to artists when they take their work and use it, whether it is for commercial, non-commercial or non-profit use. Which is why it's great that we're seeing more and more artists standing up for themselves, and taking the matter to the public sphere.
To ensure that you're legally using the photos on your website, you need to know 3 things:
- What are the laws around image copyright and creative commons licences
- How do I properly attribute an artist on my website or blog? and;
- Where can I find free stock images to use on my blog?
Stay tuned, because in the coming weeks, we'll be answering all those questions in this 4 part indiesight series!