How To Avoid Image Copyright Issues

Blogging and social media are important parts of almost every professional’s marketing strategy. In fact, many of us log in dozens of hours a week — exerting tons of effort building our online presence through blog posts and other online channels.


Part of what makes a post good is using interesting and attractive photos and images to capture your readers’ attention. The easiest way to get these photos and images would be to download them off the Internet; however, this indiscriminately could have serious repercussions. So here are a few tips on how to avoid image copyright issues:

  1. Please do not use photos that have watermarks on them. They are clearly copyright-protected, and the mere fact that the owner took the time to watermark them is an indication that they don’t want anyone else using those photos. Please do not attempt to remove watermarks or crop them out of photos.
  2. Avoid using images taken from photo-sharing websites, as these are often private property intended only for the owner’s personal use.
    Use websites that offer royalty-free or those that have free stock photos and images for download. The most popular ones include Creative Commons, iStockphoto, Fotolia, and 123rf.
  3. Consider purchasing stock images when necessary — if you think it’s expensive buying on a per-image basis, there are several sites as mentioned above that offer affordable subscription-based pricing, allowing you to download a certain amount of stock images per month, with credits that often roll over when unused.
  4. Always acknowledge your sources and provide links that lead back to where you got your photos. We can’t stress this enough!
  5. Ask for permission wherever possible before using photos for your post. If the owner gives you the green light to use their work, acknowledge your source and link it back to their website.
  6. Copyright disclaimers often contain confusing terms and jargon. When in doubt, you may as well avoid using a particular image and search for an alternative instead. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
  7. In the same mindset, keep track of all your photo sources so that in the hopefully unlikely event that you are taken to task for using a particular image, you have solid proof of where you obtained the said image — if you paid for them, keep the receipts!

In the world of blogging and social media, where readers and viewers often respond best to appealing graphics, the use of inviting images can take your posts from good to great — so long as you exercise caution, common sense, and a healthy dose of respect for the photographers, creators, illustrators and writers who upload their work online for the benefit of others.

If you find yourself needing help managing your blog, your online presence, and your marketing efforts, let us know! We can schedule a free, no-obligation strategy session with you and see how you and your business can leverage a marketing virtual assistant.