Finding and Using Legal Photographs Online

Copyright laws are getting stricter and the means photographers and agencies have to find their images is getting much better. Don’t think you’ll ever get caught.  Stay on top of it.

The best photos you can post are the ones you take locally.  Take a day or two and devote time to building a local repository of local images.  Schools, police cars, fire trucks, ambulances, post offices, city buildings, police/fire stations, courthouses, stadiums, parks, major intersections, etc.  Don’t wait until you need them.

If you are a station owner, as you listen to this, look over your websites and make notes on any image that you know that your staff didn’t take themselves.  Then, ask them where they found each one.  If they say “Google”, have them remove it immediately.  Don’t trust ‘Labeled for Re-Use’.  This is the quickest way for you to get popped with a heavy lawsuit that there is no fighting against.

What are “royalty-free images”?

Royalty-free images aren’t necessarily free. In most cases, you’ll have to pay a one-time fee to obtain the rights to use the image. Then you can use it as many times as you like. The “free” in “royalty-free” only means that you do not have to pay royalties to the owner of the image every time you use it.

Paid Stock Image Services:

If you would rather pay for every photo you use, there are a few dozen sites to choose from including Shutterstock, Adobe Stock, iStock, Depositphotos, and Getty Images.

If you are creating daily news articles, a paid service isn’t feasible.  You may only want to use one of these services for artist or concert photos.  If an artist is coming to town, typically labels will provide specific images for promotional use, but restrict that image for any other use.  ~40 artist images may work years for you refreshing them only as needed.

Our Top Free Image Sources

There are dozens available but here are our top four FREE sources.  At the publish time of this podcast, you can download and use any/all images from these websites for free without giving any mention of the website or photographer, BUT you are not able to resell the images or sell something that includes the image (t-shirts, calendars, etc).

1) Pixabay is crowdsourced from Internet users around the world, their varied library ascends to over 1 million images that are all available for free download, suitable for professional use.

2) Unsplash started it as a Tumblr blog offering leftover professional shots from an in-house production for free download, and it escalated to a stand-alone site hosting over half a million royalty-free stock photos from contributing artists – all free.

3) PikWizard has hundreds of thousands of images that come from various contributors, most of whom are known stock media producers. And they’re all for free.

4) Pexels is a free stock photo aggregator offering hundreds of thousands of royalty-free stock images in high-resolution submitted by artists or added from other free photo sites.

Even though these sources claim their images can be used without attribution, give credit on every image you don’t take regardless!  You never know when you will be asked for proof.

Importing RSS Feed Articles?

If images are contained inside those feeds, make sure that that you have specific rights to display them.  If you are unsure that you have those rights, then do not import the feeds.  (Stop now and delete every post you have imported.)

Look for Scams

A dangerous email making the rounds masquerading as a copyright infringement takedown request sent by an angry photographer. Fall for it, and your computer could become infected with malware.  Click for more details: https://www.skyrocketradio.com/business/phishing-scam-image-copyright.  I think the lesson to learn here is that it’s critical to be skeptical of any email from any unfamiliar source. Especially if they are using a Gmail, Yahoo or other free e-mail service address.  Look up their name or business or social media handles to see if they’re legit before responding or clicking links.

Learn about PicRights.com: https://copyright-demand-letter.com/picrights-ltd-copyright-letters-making-noise-in-the-us.

Main Take Away

The main takeaway from this episode is try to use photographs that you or your team have taken.  When you do use any stock photography, credit the source no matter if they require it or not.  And, have a sharp eye when it comes to online scams.

Jim Sherwood serves as chief creative, brand strategist, lead developer, meticulous project manager, and station collaborator for all Skyrocket Radio sites and projects.