A few months ago, a local photographer filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Raleigh’s Hopscotch Music Festival alleging that they used his pictures in their advertisements.
The photographer claims that he did not give the music festival permission to use his photographs.
This is just one of many copyright infringement lawsuits that are springing up all over the country. Photographers are discovering that businesses are searching Google images and then downloading and using the photos for their company websites and other marketing materials.
We want to take a few minutes to educate our readers on when you can and can’t use an image for your marketing collateral. We’ll also show you some great free resources where you can find free images that don’t require attribution, the photographer’s permission, or payment.
Please keep in mind that we are NOT giving legal advice with this blog post. We are merely collecting and restating information that’s already out there on the internet. If you have any questions about the legality of using images, please check with your attorney first.
Copyrighted Image Use
The subject of copyright images is as broad as it is complex, and there are many different rules, regulations, and guidelines that make up the subject matter. It would take us several blog posts to fully explain copyright, and it’s much simpler to generally sum it up in a single paragraph:
You cannot use someone else’s image on your website or marketing materials without their permission. This means you cannot go to Google images and download a few pictures to put up on your website or company brochure.
A copyright is a legal theory that protects the rights of the person who took the image with their camera. There are many photographers out there who feel that they should get financial compensation if a company uses their image in their marketing materials.
There are a few situations where you can use a photo that you find online:
Paid Image Websites – There are many websites out there who specialize in selling images that companies can use. They have tens of millions of photos in their database, and the cost per image can range from a few cents to several dollars. Each website has its own terms and regulations on how companies can use the photos.
Free Image Websites – These sites are sometimes called “royalty-free” because they do not require payment. Anyone can download an image and use it on their website or in their marketing materials. Be sure to read the instructions for each photo as some photographers may prohibit using their free image for commercial purposes.
10 Royalty-Free Image Websites
Here is our list of our favorite ten royalty-free image websites. Don’t forget to check the details on each site as they may have different requirements for usage or require attribution.
- PicJumbo – PicJumbo is a medium-sized image website. They offer both paid and free images.
- Adobe Stock – Adobe Stock is one of the bigger sites out there with millions of photos to choose from. You can find images for your blog, brochures, or any other marketing materials.
- Unsplash – Unsplash is another great free image site where you can search for pictures or upload your own. A search for the word “car” returned over 105,000 images.
- Shutterstock – Shutterstock is primarily a paid image repository, but they do have a reasonably decent size selection of free ones.
- FreePhotos.cc – Freephotos has a diverse selection of free photos. Make sure you check the licensing requirements for each one before you use them.
- Pixabay – Pixabay is another huge site that has over one million high-quality images, videos, vectors, and illustrations in its database.
- Pexels – Pexels offers a wide selection of photos that fall under the Creative Commons Zero license, which effectively means that the photographer has relinquished all rights to his/her images to the public domain. After you’ve performed a search, click the “info” button to the side to see the individual license requirements.
- Burst – Burst has a decent-sized selection of free, high-resolution images.
- ISO Republic – ISO Republic is a smaller image repository that has a few thousand pictures in their collection. It’s a great place to check out when you can’t find what you’re looking for on the other sites.
- New Old Stock – New Old Stock is a unique site that carries a collection of older images from multiple public archives which they claim are free from copyright restrictions
Marketing Experts in New Bern
The next time you need an image for your website or marketing collateral, be sure to check out one of the above ten sites that offer both free and paid pictures. At AlphaGraphics of New Bern, we’re much more than a print shop. We’re also marketing experts who you can count on to help you when it comes time to market your business. To learn more about how AlphaGraphics of New Bern can produce and design your next project, you may email us, request a quote or call us at (252) 633-3199.