The Internet is FULL of millions of photos that you might want to use on your website but before you get your heart set on using on a particular photo there’s something you need to understand.
All pictures that you find on the Internet are copyrighted by the person who either took the photo or created the illustration. You can’t just automatically assume that because you found a photo that you love that you can use it on your website. As a matter of fact, doing this could get you into some serious legal trouble with the copyright owner!
What Photos Are Fair Game?
If the photo specifically says that it’s free to use, you “might” be okay using it. But, and this is a big BUT (no pun intended), the person who is making that statement MUST be the actual copyright owner of the photo.
There are plenty of websites out there that offer free photos that they claim can be used on websites but many of these sites get their photos from users who submit them to the particular websites. If the person who uploaded the photo to the free photo website that you are using is actually the copyright owner, it should be okay to use that photo. But, if they just grabbed it from another website and uploaded it, someone else still owns the copyright to that photo so you could still have some legal issues by using the photo.
The safest way to use photos on your website without having to worry about copyright infringement is to either use a photo that you took yourself or purchase the license to use a photo from a stock photography website. One that I like is Dreamstime.com.
What Does Your Money Actually Buy You?
Keep in mind that even if you pay a stock photography website, you aren’t actually purchasing the copyright of a particular photograph. You are merely purchasing the license to use the photo on your website.
With this in mind, make sure that you always read the fine print associated with the license of any photo that you pay to use. It’s always best to make sure that the way you intend to use a particular photo is in compliance with the licence that you paid for.
Below, I’ve listed just a couple of the many things that you may need to keep in mind:
- If a person’s face is in a photo that you purchased the license to use there may be restrictions on how you can use the photo. For example, the company that you purchase the license from may not allow you to imply that the person depicted in the photo is an actual user of a particular product.
- If private property is present in the photo, there may be restrictions on how you can use the photo. Think of it this way. If someone were to drive by your house or business and snap a photo, you may object to them using the photo of your private property in a way that you don’t approve of.
Sometimes You May Have to Credit the Photographer or Copyright Owner
In some cases, you may have to put a statement on your website where you credit the photographer or owner of the copyright. This is often referred to as “attribution”. Be sure that you read the license for any photos that you pay to use to find out if you need to provide attribution on your website and exactly how it must be done.
Below you’ll find a photo of our dog along with an example of how you might provide attribution for the photo if you were to purchase the license to use the photo on your website.
When In Doubt, Read the Fine Print
If you have any question about how you are legally allowed to use a particular photo on your website, it’s really in your best interest to read the fine print associated with the license that you purchase.
Keep in mind that if you provide us with a photo that you would like to use on your website, you alone bear the burden of making sure that you are using the photo in a legal manner.