If you are a blogger, you probably know the importance of having high-quality images to accompany your posts. Images can attract readers, convey your message, and enhance your brand identity. However, finding and using images legally can be tricky, especially if you rely on stock photos.
However, just because you find a stock photo online does not mean you can use it for any purpose. There are different types of licenses that govern how you can use stock photos, and violating them can result in legal issues such as fines, lawsuits, or even criminal charges.
In this article, we will explain the different types of licenses for stock photos, how to check them before using them, and how to avoid common pitfalls that can get you in trouble.
Types of licenses for stock photos
There are two main types of licenses for stock photos: royalty-free and rights-managed.
Royalty-free licenses allow you to use the image for any purpose, as long as you follow the terms and conditions of the license. You usually pay a one-time fee to download the image and use it as many times as you want, without paying any additional royalties. However, royalty-free does not mean free of charge. You still need to pay for the license and respect the limitations imposed by the licensor.
Rights-managed licenses are more restrictive and expensive than royalty-free licenses. They allow you to use the image for a specific purpose, duration, and territory, and you need to pay royalties every time you use the image. You also need to obtain permission from the licensor before using the image for any other purpose than the one agreed upon.
Some examples of limitations that can apply to both types of licenses are:
- Attribution: You need to credit the author or the source of the image.
- Modification: You need to obtain permission before altering or editing the image.
- Commercial use: You need to obtain permission before using the image for any profit-making purpose.
- Exclusivity: You need to ensure that no one else is using the same image for a similar purpose.
- Distribution: You need to limit the number of copies or views of the image.
How to check the license of a stock photo
Before using a stock photo for your blog post, you need to check its license and make sure you comply with its terms and conditions. Here are some steps you can follow:
- Read the license agreement carefully. You can usually find it on the website where you downloaded the image or in a separate document attached to it. Look for keywords such as “license”, “terms”, “conditions”, “rights”, “restrictions”, “permissions”, etc.
- Check the type of license. Is it royalty-free or rights-managed? What are the specific limitations that apply to your intended use?
- Check the source of the image. Is it a reputable website or a random one? Does it provide clear information about the author and the license of the image?
- Check for trademarks or logos. If the image contains any recognizable trademarks or logos, you may need to obtain permission from their owners before using them.
- Check for people or property. If the image contains any identifiable people or property, you may need to obtain permission from them or their owners before using them. This is especially important if you are using the image for commercial purposes or in a way that implies endorsement or affiliation.
How to avoid common pitfalls when using stock photos
Even if you follow the steps above, there are some common pitfalls that can still get you in trouble when using stock photos. Here are some tips on how to avoid them:
- Do not assume that an image is free or public domain just because it is online. Always check its license and source before using it.
- Do not use images that are clearly marked as “for editorial use only” or “not for commercial use”. These images are intended for news or educational purposes only and cannot be used for advertising or marketing.
- Do not use images that are offensive, defamatory, or infringe on someone’s privacy or reputation. These images can expose you to legal claims from the affected parties.
- Do not use images that are outdated, inaccurate, or misleading. These images can damage your credibility and reputation as a blogger.
- Do not use images that are irrelevant or inappropriate for your blog post. These images can confuse your readers and distract them from your message.
Using stock photos for your blog posts can be a great way to enhance your content and attract more readers. However, you need to be careful and respectful when choosing and using them. By following the tips in this article, you can avoid legal issues and enjoy the benefits of stock photos without any hassle.