Be Image Conscious: Using Images From the Web and Copyright

Marni Macleod

Tempted to enhance your blog posts, presentation or marketing project with images found on the web? Before you copy and paste STOP and  think about whether the image you want to use is subject to copyright. Don’t believe this is an important step? For an excellent case study on how failing to use properly licensed imagery can go badly wrong have a look at this article.

Copyright can be a murky and complex area of the law. Need help figuring out whether you can actually use that perfect image for your project? Here’s a handy article from Lifehacker with full credit and thanks for permission to use the infographic from Curtis Newbold (aka the Visual Communication Guy).

You can read Curtis’ original post here and don’t forget the Editor’s note at the bottom!


You can also avoid a lot of grief trying to track down what you can and can’t use by following the tips on finding licensed images online in this useful article from MacWorld. The article references how to find free images online including via Google Images but in this regard we suggest you stop and reread the CTV article above. If you are prepared to accept the risk and the potential consequences then fine…but consider yourself duly cautioned.

In short, if you don’t own the image the safest route is to get permission and follow any attribution rules. If you are in doubt, don’t use the image.

You should also be aware that different considerations arise when you use royalty free and rights managed images. It’s a wise idea to review the terms of the licensing agreements attached to any images that you have purchased from a stock photography house to confirm that your planned uses are in compliance with the license. If you are in any doubt, call them. They are usually very helpful and will confirm your options and help you make sure you don’t breach the terms of your license.


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