Don’t Make These Mistakes When Using Images Online

Do you know which images you can legally use on your blog? Click here to see the mistakes not to make when using images online. #blogphototgraphy #copyrightinfringement

We’ve all heard the stories. . .

A blogger got charged $7500 for a photo of a green pepper she didn’t ask permission to use.

This blogger got sued for using a google image without permission.

Blogger settled for $3000 after being sued for using an image without permission.

Copywriter asked to pay $4000 for a $10 stock photo because he used it without permission. 

I could go on, but I won’t. Bloggers can and will be sued for photos they use on their blogs without permission. And the more commonplace this becomes, the easier it will be for the photographer to get their money.

Why can you get sued for using images online?

Current Fair Use image copyright laws say that you’re financially liable for posting copyrighted images, even if:

  • You did it by accident
  • You immediately take down the picture after receiving a DMCA takedown notice
  • The picture is resized
  • If the picture is licensed to your web developer
  • You link back to the photo source and cite the photographer’s name
  • Your site isn’t commercial and you make no money from your blog
  • You have a disclaimer on the site
  • The pic is embedded instead of saved on your server
  • You found it on the Internet (that’s not an excuse!)
  • from The Content Factory

You are violating copyright if you have not gotten express permission from the copyright holder, no matter the excuse above!

How can you avoid getting sued for an image?

  1. Don’t use any photo on your blog (or social media) that you have not taken yourself without written permission from the owner of the photo.
  2. If you do a “roundup post”, you must ask each person to use their photo if you are going to use photos for the post that aren’t yours (just links are okay).
  3. Be leary of websites that give away free stock photos. Sometimes those have been taken without permission and it will come back to bite you.
  4. Buy stock photos from a reputable site (we have a list of stock photo sites here) so that you can keep a record of where you got the image.
  5. Continue to learn photography so that you can use your own images on your site instead of someone else’s.
  6. Always assume there is a copyright on all images until you find out if you can use it or not.

Do you know which images you can legally use on your blog? Click here to see the mistakes not to make when using images online. #blogphototgraphy #copyrightinfringement

What can you do if someone uses your image?

If you have an image that is being used without permission from your blog, here are some things you can do:

  • Double check to make sure you didn’t sell that image to a stock photography company or allow creative commons.
  • Contact the website and let them know that they need to take it down.
  • If they do not comply (or even if they do) you can hire a lawyer to fight for your rights.
  • Determine if it is worth the fight and money to go after the perpetrator.
  • Refer to the resources below for further help.

What disclaimers should you have on your blog for images?

Terms of Use-This disclosure tells whoever visits your blog how they can use the information on it. You can say whatever you want here, like how they can get permission to use a photo or post. You can also say whether they can or cannot reuse any content or photos without permission. Some people state that you can use one photo with attribution, but that is not always the case. You can also state who owns the copyright information on the blog.

I hope this post is helpful to you while you are navigating the blogging world. It can sometimes be hard to know your legal rights and the rights of others. My advice (non-legal) would be that if you haven’t gotten permission to use an image, don’t use it. It is just not worth it. One picture could cost you thousands and potentially put you out of business. There are copyright sharks out there just waiting for you to mess up so they can charge you a ton of money for a mediocre picture. Don’t risk it.

Action Steps:

  1. Quit using images online without written permission of the owner of the image.
  2. It is better to pay a small fee for images now than to get sued later, so make the investment.
  3. If your copyright gets infringed on, take the steps to make it right.

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. Please seek legal advice from a lawyer if you have copyright issues that need to be addressed. I am just stating what I have learned from being in the blogging world and from seeing what has happened to others in the past. This is not legal advice!

Resources for Further Reading:

Fair Use Copyright Information

6 Laws Every Blogger Needs to Obey so They Don’t Get Sued

10 Myths About Copyright Explained

When Can You Use a Picture Without Violating Copyright Laws?

A List of Copyright Rules and Procedures

How To Properly Handle Online Image Theft

Intellectual Property Copyrights: A Primer

Website Policies for Bloggers and Influencers

Website Policy Suggestions

How to Write a Copyright Statement for a Website

Do you know which images you can legally use on your blog? Click here to see the mistakes not to make when using images online. #blogphototgraphy #copyrightinfringement

Have you had a bad experience with copyright laws on either side? Please let us know in the comments below. Thanks!

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  1. Herlina Kwee | MakingLOL

    I have been very cautious about this and have been using mostly Pixabay for my source of stock photo and make sure each one is under creative common license. But, I heard you might encounter copyright issue even with those photos. Better start hitting up my photographer friends, I suppose, till I get my own good camera and start taking my own photo 😉


    1. Julie

      yes. There is lots of buzz in the blogging world that some of the free sites may not have permission to give away those photos. It is just good to be aware so you don’t get burned. Thanks for stopping by!
      Julie recently posted…6 Reasons I Love Pinterest and You Should Too!My Profile


  2. carrie

    Scary stuff! I do use unsplash , rawpixel and life of Pix quite a bit. I have gone over their license requirements which are on their websites and I do link back and give credit to photographers. I’m working on taking my own but it’s going to take time.

    Thanks for info


    1. Julie

      It’s hard when you are starting out to pay for photos, but it would be so scary to get sued for a photo too. I guess it’s a trade off. Thanks for stopping by!
      Julie recently posted…Don’t Make These Mistakes When Using Images OnlineMy Profile


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