The thorny question of copyright for photographs on the internet has been around for a long time – and it's not going away. It's all too easy to pick up a picture from a website. Try it: right click with your mouse and "Save Image As". You now have a copy of an image which has probably been supplied in good faith by a struggling photographer, someone who expects and deserves some return for their work. What can they do about it?

If you picked up a printed picture in a shop and walked off with it, I think we all agree that would be wrong. But the commercial realities of the online space have been blurred, and we expect a lot for free. This is why photographers are so sensitive to privacy and copyright on sharing sites like Flickr, and why a recent move by Getty Images to release thousands of images free to embed caused some controversy.

Here are our tips for getting it right!

  • Use your own high quality images on your website – the personal touch beats stock photos hands-down.
  • License fees are not prohibitive! You can legally use images for free or for a small fee from plenty of good sites like Free Images, Shutterstock or Fotolia. If you decide to use the free embedding service from Getty Images as a shortcut to cheap, top class photography, remember that they still own and control that image – and you may wake up one morning to find a blank space on your site!
  • Be aware that most images have an owner. Use a tool like Google Image Search to check where the picture you like actually came from before publishing it. Remember too that if you can find where a picture came from, a photographer can use the same tools to find out who's using their work. This story from the Guardian last year shows the kind of trouble that awaits the unwary!
  • If you're using images of you and your business, be nice and credit your photographer. They have to make a living, and your endorsement helps.
  • Don't be too quick to share images on social media. Copyright applies there, too.

Article by Kate Baucherel of Galia Digital.

Contact 07711 674819.

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