Siegfried Kauder is a German Parliamentarian and campaigner against Internet piracy who was recently embarrassed when he was caught illegally using pictures on his website.
A common mistake by website developers and business owners is to use images on web pages which they don’t have permission to use. If you’re caught with unauthorised copyright material on your website, it can be embarrassing and, if the lawyers get involved, an expensive matter to settle.
Luckily there are a number of ways you can overcome the cost and risk involved with images through buying picutures from stock libraries, using free stock photography services, accessing material made available through Creative Commons or using material that is out of copyright.
Free Stock Photography services
The most popular sources of photographs for small business are the free stock services like RGB Stock or Stock.XCHNG, both of which are listed in our online resources page.
Both sites offer a range of free photos, although you do need to note the conditions as some photographs ask to be notified or require crediting and sometimes even permission before you can use their images.
Many photographers make their content available to businesses through the Creative Commons licences. Again it’s important to check commercial use has been permitted and Creative Commons works usually require the work to be clearly attributed to the author. The Creative Commons website has a feature where you can search for available material.
Some works are not subject to copyright as the owner may have specifically waived their rights or copyright has expired. The best source for historical photos is the Flickr Commons where some of the world’s leading cultural institutions have made their collections available over the net. Again it’s important to read the conditions carefully as they can vary between different organisations.
Generally it’s not a good idea to take images straight from the web, however you can do an image search and find pictures that aren’t copyright. In Google’s Image search you can do this by selecting Advanced Image Search and ticking the Commercial Use box in the image rights.
Paid stock photography
Libraries of stock photography have been around for a century as a cost effective alternative to taking your own photos for advertising, promotions and displays. Paid stock photography services include Fotolia, iStockPhoto – owned by Getty Images who also operate the Stock.XCHNG site – and Fresh Stock who are associated with the free RGB Stock site. Both of these sites are also listed in our online resources page.
Contact the photographer
Often a photographer is quite happy to let you use their work. If you see something you like on the net, contact them directly. They may ask to be paid or they might grant you a free licence subject to conditions.
Take your own photos
A downside with stock photos is they can look the same as other websites. It doesn’t look good when you’ve used a photo that’s been used on hundreds of other sites.
The only guaranteed way to get unique images that reflect the personality and values of your business is to hire a photographer or take them yourself if you’re confident you can capture the right look and quality.
Images are an important part of our websites as they make the pages more appealing to both visitors and the search engines.
Whichever way you choose to get images for your website, make sure you have permission to use them.