You’re browsing the internet, trying to find the perfect image for your blog or your upcoming social media post, and you find it! So you schedule your post or publish your blog and go about your day. Then you check your email later and see a message from an attorney with a copyright infringement notice stating that you have illegally used an image. So what do you do now? (After you’ve taken a deep breath and calmed down!)
Finding the right images to use online can really mean the difference between “blah” and buzzworthy pages, ads, sites, and social media. Sourcing images for your website or social media posts isn’t always easy! The small print found in copyright image policies can be intimidating (and let’s be honest- how many people really sit down and read the fine print when they are searching for images in a hurry?). Words like fair use, attribution, non-commercial, no derivative are not something you see every day so they can definitely be confusing and hard to understand how they apply to you and your small business’ social media strategy. Unfortunately, “I didn’t know!” won’t fly as a valid defense, either.
Once you know the rules, though, it’s easy to follow them! There are also a ton of free stock photo sites that make finding photos a breeze.
So, what is image copyright?
The simple definition is that image copyright is image ownership- whoever took the photo is who owns the image. Image copyright is a form of legal protection that is automatically given to a creator as soon as an image is snapped. Anything from digital art, photographs, paintings, drawings are all subject to image copyright. If your friend takes a selfie with you using her phone, texts it to you, and you post it on Instagram. Technically you needed to ask for her permission to repost that photo since she was the original creator of that image.
How can I tell if I can use an image on social media?
Image copyright covers any image you want to use on social media. If you want to use an image that isn’t yours, you must obtain permission to use it- that may be through a license or obtaining permission directly from the creator. If you are given permission to use the image, be sure to keep a record on hand for future reference, just in case.
Just because a company or an individual has shared an image on a public account, it doesn’t make the image public domain. He/she/the company still very much owns the copyright! That being said, there are some unique ways copyright images can still be shared on your social media page.
It’s typically ok to share images within the various social media platforms, as things like retweets, reshares, repins, or reposts automatically credit the creator of the post/image. Instagram is one of the platforms that this can be tricky – since there is no built-in feature that allows reposting, you must ask for permission. You can do this by sending a direct message or even commenting on the post to make sure the creator is ok with you sharing. Alternatively, there is also an app called Repost that allows you to repost your favorite images or videos on your own feed while giving credit to the original creator.
What about websites?
The same rules apply to images you want to use on your websites. You must be sure to get permission from the creator if there is a specific image you want to use that wasn’t found on free stock photo sites.
OK, so where can I find images to use?
Traditional stock photo sites like Shutterstock, Getty Images, iStock Photo, and Adobe Stock Images are great if you have the ability to pay for your photos. However, there are some great free sites like Unsplash, RawPixel, Pexels, StockSnap, and ReShot are just a few. The images on these sites are creative, eye-catching, and you won’t have to worry about image copyright issues! Although, it is always great to credit some of the creators of the images if you can – a simple tag on IG or “photo cred” in the caption. Additionally, if you use Canva to create your social media images for your posts, Canva has some free photos that you can use in the amazing visuals you’re creating.
Feeling a little overwhelmed by all of this information? SocialKNX can help with that! Our team of marketing rockstars can help you out by creating visual content for your social media that will complement your business and your brand. Reach out to us today to see how we can help!