Before you hit “PUBLISH”….Is that image legal to use???

Before you hit Publish...is that image legal???

Last night I spoke at a local DJ Association meeting about social media marketing. I had a great time! It was a super group of people and they asked lots of really good questions.

One of the things we talked about was the use of images in marketing and blogging. I realized that it’s not common knowledge that you can’t just pull any old image off the internet and use it for commercial purposes.

If you are blogging or posting to social media platforms, you probably find yourself in need of images to dress up your posts, right?  The right photo can mean the difference between someone clicking on your post or passing it by, so it’s pretty important. But did you know that you can get into trouble – the expensive kind –  for grabbing images you don’t own the rights to?

I told the group a story about a problem I ran into last year.

To be clear – I am well aware of the rules about using photos…I’ve been buying stock photos for almost 10 years. But I keep “idea files” in my computer – images, social media campaigns and articles that I want to refer back to for inspiration.

I was creating images for a restaurant client for their anniversary party and I decided I wanted a photo of people holding drinks or beer in the air – something that looked celebratory. I was sure that I had purchased something like that at some point, and I used an image I had on my computer. Unfortunately, I did not double check where it came from. The only thing I can say in my defense is that I was absolutely swamped with work…I had taken on too many clients and this was just something I needed to check off my To Do list. I was not as careful as I should have been.

Several months later my client forwarded a letter from Getty Images stating that the image I used to create my promotional graphics for Facebook had NOT in fact been paid for and they were demanding over $1000. Yikes! Embarrassing and such a stupid mistake. I eventually settled for a reduced amount, but it was a still a hefty chunk of cash. Oooof.

The lesson?

If you need images for your posts, you have four options:

  1. Use a photo you have taken yourself
  2. Create a graphic image using PicMonkey (affiliate link) or Canva
  3. Use a free stock photo (must clearly state “free for commercial use” and “no attribution necessary”)
  4. Purchase a stock photo

Obviously the free options are appealing, but there will likely be times where you can’t find what you need and you’ll have to purchase an image. Here are some resources:

FREE

Pixabay

Unsplash

PAID

Shutterstock (my current favorite)

ThinkStock

iStock Photo ($$$)

Big Stock Photo ($$$)

 

Shutterstock and Thinkstock both have a “5 images for $49 deal”, which works out perfectly for me, and you can just pay as you go. I don’t know about you, but I would rather pay 10 bucks up front than get socked with a $1000 bill, wouldn’t you?

Julie Briggs

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