There are many rules surrounding the use of online images to use in your own work. Many people assume that because an image is online, that it is free for all to use but that is not the case. Online images are still protected by copyright laws and using them without permission can mean you have been using them illegally and breaking the law.

Many professional photographers actually make money by selling the rights to their work. If you take a photograph yourself you automatically own the copyright to that image. There isn’t a special contract you have to sign. You created it, therefore, you own it.

It can all be a little confusing and even big brands still sometimes get it wrong.

So what is copyright law?

As we said above, copyright arises automatically, without the need for registration.

‘Copyright is a legal right created by the law of a country that grants the creator of an original work exclusive rights for its use and distribution .’

The current act is the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. The law gives the creators of literary, dramatic, musical, artistic works, sound recordings, broadcasts, films and typographical arrangement of published editions, rights to control the ways in which their material may be used.

Let’s educate ourselves on the common terms and licenses you may see…

– Creative Commons (CC)

Creative Commons is a public copyright license where the creator of the image has allowed to use it free of charge. Do keep in mind though that some public domain and creative commons images do require links back or attribution to the original source/creator.

Do your research and check requirements for use before posting it all over your blog.

– Royalty Free

Royalty Free images (the use of the word FREE is misleading here) can actually still result in copyright infringement penalties. Royalty Free means that although you are not required to pay each time you use the image, you still have to make a ‘one-time’ purchase of the rights to use the image.

Of course, there are options to keep you within the copyright laws…

– Take You Own Images

Create and build an image library of your own. Not only will you have individual and unique images, you won’t be risking anything by using them.

– Buy The Rights To The Images You Want To Use

Great for the odd image or if you don’t need to use a whole library of great pictures BUT if you need new, fresh images almost constantly it will become costly.

– Use Free Image Websites

It’s 2018, of course, there are heaps of web sources full of free images to use. Here are few of our favourites…

* Pexels

* Pixabay

* Splitshire

* Unsplash

* Gratisography

* Death to the stock photo

* Snapwire Snaps

* Scatter Jar