Unless it is something you create yourself, the short answer is NO. But the article does not stop here. Many people are NOT aware of the risks involved in downloading images off the internet and using those images for themselves. Many business owners are unaware of the legal implications and the massive fines involved in using the unsourced content. In fact, even famous personalities have fallen to committing the mistake of using unsourced content on social media.
In today’s social media landscape, posts with images are the most engaging type of post you can put up on social media. Image posts make up 75% of the content posted on Facebook worldwide. Some platforms are even dedicated to image posting, like Instagram.
Let’s take a look at what copyright is, shall we?
According to Merriam-Webster, Copyright is defined as “the exclusive legal right to reproduce, publish, sell, or distribute the matter and form of something (as a literary, musical, or artistic work).” Copyright laws are set up to protect all creative works and laws vary from country to country.
Simply put, you own everything you’ve artistically created – and you have exclusive rights to display, use, and reproduce your original work. If you are using a creative output from someone else, without their permission, you might be infringing on their copyrights.
Let’s face it. Not all of us can be artists, and some images are too beautiful not to share. Also, there are images out there that you can use without requiring the owner’s permission. How do we use them and where can we find them?
Your best bet is to look for images that are under the Creative Commons license. Under the Creative Commons license, artists can give permission to use their work for certain purposes without requiring permission. But you still have to be very careful about using this system as licenses aren’t all the same. When in doubt, use images that are licensed under Creative Commons Zero, which means you can use them for any purpose without having to attribute them to the owner.
Another great option is to subscribe to a stock photography site, there are millions of beautiful high-resolution images to choose from, and you are sure to find one that works best for you. Every business owner or freelancer should have their favorite go-to stock photography site. Some of the most popular ones are Shutterstock, iStock, Bigstock, Getty Images, and Dreamstime. You can also check out the free stock photography sites like Gratisography.
Don’t think about copyright laws as a huge nuisance. Think about them as a protective blanket. After all, the same copyright laws that protect these beautiful images are the same ones that protect all the content that you publish online.
Happy image hunting! Do you have any favorite images stashes or caches that you would like to share with us? Let us know in the comments. Remember to stay humble and hustle hard.
Written by Jaie O.- The Help