Posted on September 5, 2013

Are Your Images Licensed?

The internet is a public space where people have access to almost anything, however, it is important to understand that when you take some things from the web, they are not truly yours…and you could be at risk of getting charged for them. A very common misconception is that you have the right to use images from the internet…including Google Images. You are correct that you can download and copy any image from the web…for personal use that is, but if you are looking to use these images for marketing, or on your website, proper licensing may be required.

Are all the images on your website properly licenses? If you are unsure of this, we urge you to post this question to your website developer. Many development companies have subscriptions with popular image vendors and have licenses for all of the images used on your website. Images that you send to your website, however, may not be licensed! Of course, images of your office, doctors, etc. do not need this type of licensing, but in most cases “stock imagery” does. There are fees accessed by these stock photography companies for use of the photos. These fees then go to pay the actual photographers. It is also important to note that there are different types of image licenses that limit the use of photos purchased. It is important to understand these limitations before purchasing so you do not receive further billing from the image companies.

When searching for images you may notice a watermark on images. This is sure sign that the photo will need to be purchased. However, when you are surfing websites and find the perfect image and do not see the watermark, this does not mean the image is free for the taking. The image may have been purchased by the company or website development for use on that website. Simply downloading a copy of this image does not give you the rights to use it freely.

As an internet marketing company, our clients will alert us from time to time of notices/bills from image companies they have received. The amount being requested is generally very high. It could range from $700.00 to over $1500.00 for the illegal use of just one image! Unfortunately these companies are not forgiving, and they have every legal right not to be. They expect that you pay up for the use of their photos…even if you are not aware that you did anything wrong!

As mentioned before, it is always best to check with your website developer to determine photo licenses for the images they have placed on your website, and most should mention this in their contracts. It is extremely important for the general public to know that if you send your website developer an image, or if you add an image to your website that is not licensed, you could be subject to very high fees.

If you are in need of photos for marketing purposes there are many very reasonable vendors on the web that offer a wide variety of photos and payment options where you can purchase a single image, a subscription or credits. Talk to your website developer for a list of preferred resources.