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Photographers (even amateurs) can get very touchy if they think you’ve used their image without permission.

The ability to self-publish has led to the mistaken notion that, if a picture appears in a Google image search it’s okay to use. Well, is NOT !
As web professionals, we ought to know better. Coming from a graphic arts background, I already understood how copyrights worked long before I started designing websites.

The temptation to use images “from the Internet”, rather than paying for stock photography, can be … very, very , very tempting.

What’s more, easy-to-use blogging platforms like Tumblr and WordPress means people with no understanding of copyright laws are right-clicking and “Save Image As…” each and every day.
It’s important and thats why I advise my clients on the proper use of images before giving them the keys to the back-end.

As a designer, placing copyrighted images on a site can put my clients in an awkward position.
After all, who do you suppose the owner of that image is going to contact?
Even if a simple “cease and desist” resolves the matter, it’s still downright embarrassing.
If you don’t have access to a stock library, a simple solution is to contact me before placing an order !

When it comes to professional stock photography, there are two traditional licensing models: Rights Managed and Royalty Free.

Rights Managed

Rights Managed means the right to use the image is managed and controlled – usually by a stock agency. Images are typically licensed for a set fee based on where it’s being used, and for how long.

Rights managed images are advantageous when the advertiser wants to be sure that the image they’ve selected is “off-the-market” and not currently being used in any other advertising or – God forbid – by the competition. Paying more for a rights managed image ensures this never happens.

Royalty Free

Royalty free doesn’t mean free to use!
It means you don’t pay a royalty payment each time you use the image.
When you purchase a royalty free image – either individually or as part of a compilation – you may use it as often as you like, as many times as you like.

There are some usage restrictions  (such as placing the image on a t-shirt or template you’ll be reselling, etc).

The downside of using low-cost royalty free imagery is the risk of a popular image or the same model appearing many places at once—such as here and here and and here and and here.

Building websites  I realize how difficult it is to obtain content from clients. Despite the risks, a typical small business doesn’t have the marketing reach or budget of a company like Samsung or Asus , so royalty free images remain a cost-effective alternative.

It’s certainly a better option than using images from a Google search.
Unless the image you found specifically states terms of use, assume it’s not available to use. Otherwise, you may find yourself on the wrong end of a rights-violation sting. (And if you do, please don’t construe this article as legal advice. I’m not an attorney, so be sure to consult with someone who is, if the need arises.)

So before placing an order please contact me regarding the pictures we’re going to use on your project.

Kind regards,


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