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Copyright laws are stringent and can land you in serious legal trouble and cost your business thousands of dollars if you seriously breach terms of use or appropriate a person’s intellectual property.

With all the talk about visual marketing, it can be tempting to upload that amazing shot you saw on a photographer’s blog or a slick product image taken by a fashion blogger.

Copyright laws are stringent and can land you in serious legal trouble and cost your business thousands of dollars if you seriously breach terms of use or appropriate a person’s intellectual property.

“The internet is a great force for democracy, industry, the spread of information, and free speech. It’s also a breeding ground for plagiarism, copyright infringement, and libel … if you didn’t snap that photo yourself, it doesn’t belong to you,” says digital marketer Adria Saracino, who goes on to give a range of useful tips on how to avoid breaking the law while going about your marketing efforts. 

Essentially, all content on the internet is copyrighted. If you go ahead and use an image that isn’t yours, chances are a pingback server or Google image search by the copyright holder will lead them right to your site – and they won’t be impressed once they get there.

“The moment an artist creates an image, a writer pens a story, a musician strums out a new song, or some guy strings together a few tin cans and calls it art, they’ve got copyright. While registration is required to enforce that copyright, there’s nothing they have to do to hold that right in the first place,” Saracino says.

You can appropriate images and content under the ‘fair use’ section of the Copyright Act, especially if your intention is for non-profit or educational purposes (for example an art teacher downloading, printing and even uploading to a school forum an image of a famous painting), but this can be a murky area.

Remember, laws and court judgements will continue to evolve and change as technology does.

That being said, there are a number of sources where you can obtain fabulous, often free images for your blogs, social accounts and websites, or you can simply ask the owner of the image to use it!

Here are some places to source images:

stock.xchng 

You need to register for this one but once you do there’s an array of free, high-quality images to choose from as well as premium paid for images.

Flickr 

Search different categories for free images, although photo authors do have the option to turn off downloading options.

RGBStock 

Top-quality photos can be found here, many of which are free. You must register to download.

Microsoft Images 

More than just wallpaper and screensavers, you’ll find a gallery of free images here.

 

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