Tips For Correct Usage Of Images

Don’t Be A Copycat! 

It’s widely known that when you add an image to your blog post, e-newsletter, or social media post you will have higher readership and engagement. As if finding the topic and words to fill an entire e-newsletter or blog isn’t difficult enough, you’re surely going to want to illustrate your text too. As you well know, the Internet is a visual medium, and lots and lots of text without images to lighten and brighten it all up is bound to lose you readers.

So where are you going to find those images, eh? No problem, you say … you’ll just Google your subject matter, click on the “images” tab, and up will pop more appropriate photos, cartoons, and icons than you’ll need in a lifetime of e-newsletters and blogs.

Heck, we needed an image to go along with the blog about being a copycat that you’re reading right now and look what we found:

google image search

 

In the good old days, before our production editor got on our case, we would have picked one of those images, copied it, and, voila! Instant illustration! We’re guessing you’re thinking that would be a brilliant idea … but, as our production editor would say:

YOU’RE NOT ALLOWED TO DO THAT!!!

We know … you’re saying WHAT??? They’re all on the Internet! And Google showed them on its search results page, which means Google says it’s OK for us to use them.

No, Google did NOT say that! In fact, you might want to check out this article about a PR firm that got smacked with a formal complaint letter about image copyright infringement. Fortunately for them, their attorney was able to negotiate a settlement of just $3,000 instead of the original $8,000 in penalties they might have had to pay. But we’re guessing you think even $3,000 is too much to pay. And we’d agree with you there!

So how does one avoid getting into such a predicament?

Start by promising yourself (and your production editor) that you will never, ever duplicate an image unless you are positive it’s free for the taking.

cat3But, wait, you say … what about the clever little image to the right that shows a copycat doing just what we’re telling you NOT to do. Did we pay for that?

No … and that’s because we snagged it from the bounty of illustrations that Microsoft Word 2013 generously provides for the taking … which you can find here: http://ow.ly/uUbp4

Similarly there are Web sites you can access, like MorgueFile, where high-res digital stock photography and other art is available for free for either corporate or public use.

You can find more on these nine sites:

And you can even go to sites like Getty Images or iStock where typically you’ll need to purchase images, but you’ll also discover some that are free.

Just be sure to read the fine print where you find the images, especially the licensing requirements. Some require you to link to their site, others want you to credit the site or the artist/photographer. Some don’t care what you do.

images copyrightIf all of this is too much effort for you, if you believe your e-newsletter or blog is too small for anyone to notice that you swiped someone else’s work, if you think you won’t get caught, think again. People who create copyrighted images hire services that use computer programs to scour the Internet for copies of those works. It may take time to find them, but the process is automated and runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Eventually they’ll catch up with you.

Our best advice is DON’T DO IT! Current Fair Use image copyright laws say you are financially liable for posting copyright images. Even if you link back to the photo source and cite the photographer or artist’s name, even if you make no money from your e-newsletter or blog, even if you do it by accident.

Consider it a word to the wise.

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