When you are doing a blog, a social media post, or something else to be published (often online) and you want to grab an image off of the Internet you may ask me, what in your opinion is the best free image site?
I am sorry to tell you there isn’t one, there are generally no such things as free images on the Internet. There is generally a risk of copyright infringement when using any free image website (and certainly when just picking up an image from Google Images). My friend Elaine learned that the hard way.
She actually paid a designer to design her website and her designer sourced her images off a so-called free image website. Years later Elaine received a letter of demand from Getty Images saying that the images on her site belong to them and were infringing their copyright. This was years after the site had been designed and she had lost touch with her web designer by then. She could not prove that the designer had paid for them, or that the licence that the designer had to use the images (if they even had a licence) would allow her to use the images.
Often people tell me that they use sites like Pixabay for free images. Pixabay is dangerous, I had a client who had all the images on their website from Pixabay. They received a letter of demand from Getty Images for 10 images, the demand was $1,500 per image, so a total of $15,000. If you go and look at Pixabay in the terms and conditions, you will see it says that they do not guarantee who owns the copyright and the images, or that you are entitled to use them.
If you search for reviews of Pixabay or their help chats, you will see that they state that the user of the image is responsible for any copyright issues, including allegations of infringement. Anybody can upload anything to Pixabay, not necessarily the trademark owner, or the copyright owner. The situation is generally the same for all “free image” websites. So if you are going to go through a free image website, you could find yourself in terrible trouble.
The lesson from all of this, is simply join one of those stock images places, where you can sometimes pay $1 an image, but make sure they guarantee that using an image from their site will not amount to copyright infringement. Better yet, get a photographer to come and do some really good photos of you doing different things in your business, and you can use those personalized images on your blogs.
I hope that has not happened to you and that you have not been caught out by downloading and using what appear to be “free” images.
Book a complimentary phone call with Cathryn, by clicking this link or ask a question by email to email@example.com (only available to people with businesses based in Australia or New Zealand). She would love to chat to you about your IP and business legal questions.
Cathryn Warburton is the Legal Lioness. With more than 2 decades of experience behind her, she legally
bulletproofs her client’s businesses and protects them from business bullies. She is a multi-international award winning lawyer, trade mark attorney, patent attorney, author, mentor and keynote speaker.