If you own or manage a blog/website – you have probably spent you fair share of time looking for proper images that you could use for your site.
If you are serious about blogging – you probably do not simply Google-search the image you need and use the first result that the search engine throws at you. You have your own tricks of finding “copyright free images” or “royalty free images” online.
Once you did your homework you ended up on Flickr or another website that offers “FREE” images. Happy with your find you proudly place the image in your blog post and hit the publish button. A few months (or years) later you receive a Settlement Demand Letter claiming you need to pay Copyright Infringement Penalties of $8,000 because you used that specific image.
You might feel like simply ignoring this letter but it’s a very bad idea. Most likely the company who sent you the letter is going to sue you if you ignore them. I do suggest doing your due diligence and making sure the letter is in fact legit (because there are so many scams these days). Better yet, hire a lawyer to take care of it, a good lawyer might be able to negotiate that penalty down but you’ll still have to pay, most likely.
How Did it Happen?
“This website makes reasonable efforts to comply with and solve all issues regarding potential copyrights and trademarks available on the US and international market. While the responsibility for the images uploaded is entirely on the photographer’s side, he/she being the one who holds all copyrights over the content submitted, we do our best to identify and solve any copyright or trademark infringements.”
In other words, the website can’t know if the images that users upload hold any copyrights or not. Anyone can upload images to these sites and claim it as their own work – when in reality they are infringing copyright laws and if you use those images on your website – you are also infringing the copyright laws and become liable for a lawsuit.
Getty Images (who is often involved in such lawsuits) own right to an estimated 100,000,000 images online. Yes, that’s 100 Million different images – so the risk of YOU mistakenly using one of their images is rather high.
Some small company owners have been sued as well because their “web guy” has created a site for them, using these copyright protected images. If you hire someone to make you a website – ask them where they got the photos. If they didn’t BUY them – you might be at risk.
Where to Get Images For Your Site?
There are 2 solutions: 1. Buy the images. 2. Make your own images.
Buying the Images.
Sites like iStockPhoto, Getty Images and many others can sell you the photos you need. This way you do not have to worry about anyone’s copyrights; you pay for that. The issues here is often the price, you will pay $40-$100 per image and that is quite expensive if you constantly need new images, especially if your blog isn’t making much money.
Second solution: making your own images. This can be easier than it sounds, as long as you have a digital camera and a computer. You can make images like this one with minimal effort and time-investment:
Looks pretty good, doesn’t it?
Just a few days ago I created a 7 page tutorial on How To Make Your Own Images – the tutorial about 50 comments within hours, so it seems people really need this kind of training.
I have been creating my own images for this blog – and I am really happy to do so. It doesn’t take much time, it’s completely free and I get my peace of mind.
Where do you get your images?
4 thoughts on “How a Copyright Free Image May Cost You $8,000… or more.”
Getting the attention you deserve when having a website or Blog – Being different, brings the value of originality directed towards the viewer- Take your own photos! Get creative / using images on Google can be risky as explained- I am glad that Extra-paycheck pointed out the seriousness of the matter in such depth detail.
It can get real ugly real fast if you get caught up in a dog fight with copyright infringement- from my experience – do what you love and people will appreciate the work that you put into it , Alex does such a great job in this article pushing the facts, understanding is key- . Get rich & be popular fast (Black hat way of thinking) will land you on the dirty side of the internet with a lot of explaining to do if you get caught- if it’s using someone’s photos, spinning content or editing videos to create promos, it’s only a matter of time.
What I enjoy most about this article, Alex opens the door and inspires you to get out there be creative- using your own images. Once you get the experience with taking your own photos if you want to extend the possibility’s “think outside the box”
I have thought outside the box and this is what happened.. Being a licensed photographer ( Is as easy of summiting images you have taken while taking a pop quiz” with “ Istock photo “ as mentioned in the article and profit it from the photo creativity. Now the tables have turned doing what i love and making an extra income as it all comes together.
Thank you for this article. I really enjoy reading –