You found the perfect picture on your search and want to use it on your blog. Can you use it? The short answer is only if you have permission from the owner.
Back in my day, I used to have a cassette recorder hovering over the radio so I could record a favourite song. The sound quality was abysmal but would pass until I bought a record. Now it is a matter of downloading a file. Music is so easy to copy. That's a blessing and a curse. A blessing if you want to have a copy to put on a flash drive in your car. A curse because musicians also lose a lot of money to piracy.
Pictures are similar. It is very easy to save a picture on your computer. Remember that somebody took that photo or drew that graphic. That picture is somebody else's work. It is always safer to assume the image is copyright.
Copyright law is complex. This is the simple version. Under Australian law copyright belongs to the person who created the work unless:
- You sign the copyright over in writing
- You are creating the work for an employer, in which case the copyright belongs to the employer.
- You have been commissioned to create the work for private or domestic use.
If you want to use an image you've found, be sure to ask the owner for permission to use the photo. Specify exactly what you are going to use the image for. Also check if there are fees for use.
There are other avenues for getting images.
Use your own photographs and images. Most of us carry smart phones or have cameras. There is probably a mountain of photos you can use. Your own photos can add a sense of authenticity. There is also a danger that they can look amateur which is not good if you want to project a professional image.
Hire a photographer
Hire a photographer to get high quality shots. Everybody might have a camera. Everybody might have thousands of their own pictures to choose from. They know how to get the correct lighting and how to make your pictures shine. They can bring out that certain something that your images might be lacking. A professional photographer can add a lot of value by saving you a lot of time.
Hire a graphic designer
Hire a graphic designer. They can not only create and touch up images for you, they have knowledge. That knowledge can be valuable. A good graphic designer can help build your brand. They know how to communicate using images. It may help open up a world of other possibilities for you.
Stock images are a double edged sword. They are generally of a high quality. They can have 2 problems. They are not unique. There could be many web sites with the same image. They can also be vague and generic. There is also the danger that people will way "I've seen that before". It is also worth noting that people are very good at spotting stock images. By all means, use them, but don't use the cliched businessmen shaking hands. Be creative about them.
Whatever you do, make sure you have permission. Obtaining stock images should have implied permission. Check the license agreement. Some outlets that give free stock image require the photographer or artist to be credited.
Make sure that people in the images have given permission. Stock images most likely have gained the permission of people. If you are doing your own photos, get them to sign a release form. Any children will need the permission of a parent or guardian. As a general rule, you don't need permission to photograph people in public places. Remember that people have a reasonable expectation of privacy.