How to Use Stock Photos Without Facing Legal Consequences

Are you planning on creating a website? 


Usually, you start with finding a suitable theme for the website. Gathering all the necessary information is next as you write down content for your target audience.

But in between all the components that go into building a website, don’t forget the essential element: IMAGES!

Even the best-written content can feel dull in this fast-paced digital world without any pictures accompanying it. The images you use must exude the right emotions so that the audience can relate to them. 

Many times, you may not pay much attention to the photos you want to add to your website. The lack of awareness can negatively impact the appeal of your website. So how do you get images and avoid any legal issues related to them? Let’s find out. 

Sources of Images

There are two primary sources of pictures for a website. 

Original Images

An original image typically means taking new and custom photographs for the project. This is an excellent option since you have all the creative control and can experiment with different ideas.  

For these types of images, you need to engage a professional photographer. This will give you high-quality original photographs, which can be expensive. It can also take a while to have the photos ready with all the editing involved.  

Stock Photos

The other options are the good ole stock photos. These are images available with agencies that you can get for a low price. These are perfect if you’re low on budget or need images instantly. You also get all kinds of variety to choose from.  

Since these images are non-exclusive, you have to see if your preferred image is used extensively. Some stock photo agencies offer statistics on downloads, which is very helpful in this regard. 

Here, let me tell you more about stock photos:

  • Stock Photos Come with a License

You cannot go to the internet and download a random image from Google search for your website. I mean, you can, but you will be violating the law. To avoid this problem, you can get images from stock photo agencies for very reasonable prices.

They come with a license that gives details about how you can use these images. Yes, there can be restrictions on how, when, and where you can use these pictures. And, not all photos are up for use in the same way.

  • Not All License are Equal

That’s right! Not all image licenses are the same. Different types of licenses allow you various degrees of freedom of use. 

You may be able to reproduce as many copies of an image as you like, even for commercial purposes under a particular license. However, a similar picture with a different license may only allow you to use the photo once for a specific purpose. 

So learning about the licenses is ideal for avoiding potential future issues, such as lawsuits. This knowledge will always come in handy for you. 

Can There be Legal Issues With The Use of Stock Photos?

Can There be Legal Issues With The Use of Stock Photos?Yes, you can have severe legal issues if you do not abide by the license terms. If you do not follow the terms of use or outrightly violate the copyrights, you can be liable in a court of law. 

The penalties can be as minor as taking down the images to severe financial penalties and even jail time. In many cases, the violating party has to bear legal expenses for both sides. Some case settlements occur outside the court, which still costs a fortune.   

How to Avoid Legal Troubles? 

The best way to avoid legal trouble is to know about the license agreements and adhere to them completely. You have to have attention to detail in these matters. Besides, these licenses are not very complicated, and once you use these images frequently, you can avoid the typical mistakes. 

Types of Licenses

Some websites have their own license agreements, generally derived from commonly used licenses. It is essential to read these licenses and know what you can’t and cannot do with the image. 

It is also beneficial to know the standard licenses, as many agencies use them as is. Let’s learn more about them. 

  • Rights Managed

A right managed license is an excellent option when you want an image that is not extensively used. There are strict restrictions on how you can use these photos, for how long, and in which geographies, in some cases. You have to be very specific in using the picture per the agreed terms. 

If you want to use the image for a different purpose, or more times than decided previously, you will have to pay a further fee. 

The benefit of right managed images is that they are exclusive, and not many users will be utilizing them simultaneously. However, they can be a little pricey compared to other options available.

  • Royalty-Free

These images have very few restrictions, especially compared to the right managed ones. You can acquire the image by paying a one-time fee and using it as many times as possible. There are no additional charges for multiple uses in different projects. 

The downside with these images is that you may not be able to use them for some commercial projects. Since these are relatively cheap and non-exclusive, there is also a chance that someone else in your work area may be using the same images. 

  • Extended / Enhanced License

This license type offers all the goodness of a royalty-free plus some more. You can use these photos for any commercial purpose without any restrictions. You can, for example, use these pictures on cups and t-shirts for reselling, which is not allowed in a royalty-free license. 

The cost of photos with an extended license is higher than royalty-free ones. However, this is the only license that allows the users to use the pictures in products they intend to sell.

  • Creative Commons

Creative Commons (CC) images are ideal for blogs and similar websites. There are multiple kinds of licenses under the CC banner, which vary in nature. 

In most cases, CC photos are not for commercial purposes. However, some types allow commercial uses as well.    

CC photos are available for free, but there are restrictions on their uses. It is essential to pay attention to the fine print when using these images to ensure that you do not break any laws. 

Common Restrictions Under All License Type

Common-Restrictions-under-All-License-Type---stock-photosSome common restrictions fall under all license types and must be adhered to for legal safety. 

  • You may need a release form from the models in the photos since their consent may not be included in the photo license. You can discuss this with your stock photo agency. 
  • Never portray a model in a bad light when using these images. 
  • Never try to imply that the model in the photos is endorsing your brand, product, or service unless you have an actual endorsement from them. 
  • If there are any well-known buildings, animals, or other identifiable landmarks, you may need permission to use such images from their representatives. 

How to Avoid Claims

Avoiding claims about copyright infringement is not that difficult. You can follow the suggestions below. 

  • Carefully read the license agreement and follow it completely. If you need help in the process, you can engage a legal expert, especially if you’re dealing with multiple entities for your images with different license types. 
  • If there is a lack of clarity on any clause, reach out to your agency and ask for clarification. 
  • If you’re unsure about a particular query, even after receiving a response from your stock photo agency, it is best to opt for a different image.  

How to Deal with Claims

If someone claims that you have used their image without their consent, it is best to take it down immediately. Even if you have purchased the photo through the proper channel, it’s a good idea. Get all the facts related to the claim. 

If the claim is accurate, you should keep the image off your website. However, suppose someone is falsely accusing your brand. In that case, you can discuss your options with your legal department and even sue the person in return. 

If your stock photo agency claims that you have violated terms of service, you can usually make amends without much trouble. It is, however, ideal to avoid such mistakes in the first place. 

The Bottom Line

Stock photos are nothing short of a blessing for websites. You can add high-quality images for a low price and no waiting times. Plus, there are millions of images to choose from, which definitely helps. 

However, you must be careful when it comes to their license agreements. You must pay attention to the terms and conditions associated with using these images. This knowledge will be beneficial in avoiding mistakes and avoiding legal troubles. 

You must remain vigilant and reach out to your image providers if there is any confusion. Despite their response, it is best to pursue other options if you’re not sure. Follow these principles, and you should be free from any legal ills.  

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