How to Share Photos or Videos without Stealing Them

November 6, 2014 Kathy Watts permalink

lookingWe’ve all done it. We need a photo for a Facebook post or an image for our latest promo, so we go to Google Images and find something we like and then use that. The problem is, we probably have no idea what the copyright info is for those images. Some of the images you see may be available for free use, while others are not. We may have just unknowingly stolen content.

Or you see a photo that you just love and want to use it. So you take a screen shot of it, or download it to your laptop, and put it in your post with a credit underneath it. You feel pretty good about getting to use the photo and you’ve credited the place or person it belongs to. Problem solved, right? Well, not exactly. Unless you directly contacted the person who owns the copyright and got their permission to use the image, you are still in violation of copyright laws, even if you do add a credit to the photo. The owner of the image gets to decide where their work is used, not you. Offering them a credit or a link-back doesn’t erase the fact that you’ve just infringed on their copyright.

What about that video from YouTube that perfectly shows a specific technique? You saw it on someone else’s Facebook page and just want to share it on your business page. So you click the Share button and add it to your timeline. But did you stop to check that the video was playing in the YouTube player window, even when embedded on Facebook? If not, then you may have infringed on copyright yet again.

It is a slippery slope these days when sharing images or videos online. It can be so easy to infringe on an artist’s copyright without even thinking about it, especially with so many beautiful and interesting images online and people sharing them constantly on social media. It creates quite the dilemma. We are in an image-driven society and you need images and videos in order to connect with your clients. But you don’t want to violate anyone’s copyright.

So here are a few tips to help navigate the world of sharing images & videos.

Create your own images
Well, first off, you could create your own images or videos. That way, you own the copyright and can use them however you wish. You can either go out and take your own photos, film your own videos, or create graphics and images on your computer. Keep in mind that taking a copyrighted image and making changes to it does not suddenly make it yours. You would still be liable for violating copyright law. So if you are creating your own images, make sure you are doing so from scratch, not starting with someone else’s image.

Use Stock Images
A stock image is a photograph already licensed for use. You will usually pay a small fee in order to use the photo, but once you’ve purchased the right to use it, you can do so without violating copyright. You can purchase the right to use stock photos and images from a variety of companies online. The price depends on the photo and what you’ll be licensing it to use it for, and you may have to pay an additional fee if you want to use the image again for a different project.

Look for Royalty-Free Images
Royalty-free images come with a license that allows you to use the image without paying a fee each time you do so. They are typically non-exclusive, which means other people & businesses can use them too.

Use Images in the Public Domain
Images in the Public Domain are those that no longer have a copyright, so anyone is free to use them. You can find images in the public domain by searching for “public domain images” on Google or other search engines.

Search for Images with a Creative Commons License
If you are looking for free images that are part of the public domain or whose authors have waived copyright in various ways, Creative Commons is the best place to look. You can search for images on Creative Commons here:  Be sure to pay attention to what sort of license each photo comes with. Some only allow their images to be used for non-commercial work, while others offer more flexibility.

Make sure you share videos the right way
If you are sharing videos from YouTube, make sure you are sharing them via the embeddable YouTube player. Do not just download or save the video and then upload it to your website or social media page. Instead, share or embed the video directly from YouTube into your page or website. You can find the embeddable link under the share button on the video’s YouTube page. By sharing videos using the embeddable link or share button, you are maintaining the link back to that video’s page on YouTube and are ensuring that the creator of the video still gets the credit and the benefit of any ad revenue generated when anyone watches the video.

You can also ask the author for their permission to use an image
If you find the perfect video or image and you just have to use it, make sure you contact the author or owner first. Ask their permission and then abide by their requests. It could be that they’ll agree to let you use their image, either for free (with proper credit, of course) or for a small fee. Making sure you have the permission of the author is a win-win for both of you.

By making an effort to be sure you are not infringing on copyright with the images you choose to use, you are ensuring the protection of both your business and the rights of the artists and creators. That is not only proper business practice, that’s something that makes everyone feel good.

Looking for Images? Here are some useful websites:

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