How free images could cost your business a fortune…

011_004We wanted to tell you the great news that Getty Images has recently announced; “Getty Images is making over 35 million photos available for FREE!” Read the BBC announcement here.

However, there are some limitations about when you can and cannot use one of Getty’s “free” images. PCWorld says “Use of Getty’s photos online must be for non-commercial use”. Follow this link to read the full story.

So what does non-commercial use mean?
Does this include your blog or website?
When are we allowed to use a free photo from Getty Images without receiving a nasty letter threatening legal action for inappropriate use?

We decided to look into this further. As a specialist sales company with our own blog writing and maintaining article libraries, news areas and blog for our clients, we do not want to risk reputation damage or put our necks on the line.

We have done some further research so you don’t have to. And it seems this is a rather grey area… We asked for some independent legal advice and this is what we were told about this issue.

“You are best advised to engage a copyright lawyer, but they will give you a yes and a no answer”… So this still leaves you and us in the dark and even more confused about using photos that are claimed to be free.

We delved deeper into this and decided to go straight to Getty Images for an answer:

“You may only use embedded Getty Images for editorial purposes (meaning relating to events that are newsworthy or of public interest). Getty Images may not be used for any commercial purpose (for example, in advertising, promotions or merchandising) or to suggest endorsement or sponsorship; in violation of any stated restriction; in a defamatory, pornographic or otherwise unlawful manner; or outside of the context of the Embedded Viewer.”

From what we researched we would give anyone that wants to use a photo for their blog, website or other commercial uses the following advice:

  1. Refer to the Creative Commons licences. If you want to give people the right to share, use, and even build upon a work you’ve created, you should consider publishing it under a Creative Commons license. You can choose to allow only non-commercial uses and protect the people who use your work, so they don’t have to worry about copyright infringement, as long as they abide by the conditions you have specified.
  2. When searching for photos, try using Google’s advanced search. This option enables you to search for images that are available to use, share and even modify for commercial use.  To do this select ‘advanced search’ then in the ‘usage rights’ drop down select the best option that suits you.
  3. Seek out other good places to find free high quality photos to use for your website, blog & other commercial uses. 4 to get you started are: Pixabay, Unrestricted Stock, Hubspot and Unsplash.

But beware that you need to read the terms of these sites carefully especially when using these images for commercial use. We do not think sites like these always have proper clearances from, say, the model in the photo for you to use their image for your business.

This is what one site says “Pixabay cannot be held responsible for any copyright violations, and cannot guarantee the legality of the Images stored in its system. If you want to make sure, always contact the photographers. You use the site and the photos at your own risk!”

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