Stock photographs are a beneficial resource for companies and designers looking for high-quality visuals but don’t want to spend too much time and money on photoshoots. These pictures are available in limitless categories, and you can conveniently find the required pictures without much hassle. Ultimately, these images can be used in various marketing materials, websites, and personal projects.
But did you know that each photo uploaded on the stock photo website is backed by legal restrictions? And failure to obey them can lead to severe consequences such as lawsuits, penalties, and takedown notice from the DMCA.
In fact, every stock photo has a distinctive license, and the user must understand the terms and conditions before posting. In this guide, let’s explore some ways you can use stock photos without the fear of getting sued.
Verify the License
When using stock photographs, you will come across three main types of licenses. However, do remember that stock photo sites modify the fine print in the license as they like. So, make sure you give the details a careful read before using the pictures.
Contrary to the name, the pictures that fall under the royalty-free license are not free to use. The term ‘free’ means that you don’t have to pay any additional fees for using the pictures, other than the one-time, flat fee.
The license entitles you to use the selected picture as many times as you want, in a range of uses – forever. They are pretty cost-effective as well and often preferred by budget-conscious marketers.
This type of license is customized according to the user’s unique needs. This means that you can modify the usage of selected pictures as per the time frame, geographical location, distribution volume, and audience size. The specifications are not preset, and the user is free to change as per their requirement.
Another plus of rights-managed photography is its exclusivity. While royalty-free is within the budget of most marketers, the rights-managed pictures can be expensive. This is why you can avail yourself exclusive rights to the photos and ensure that you are the only one using them. You can even take a history from the distributors to find out who had used the picture previously.
The extended use license ‘extends’ your usage. It allows you to utilize the pictures in items you plan to resell and redistribute. For example, the images on things like t-shirts, mugs, and calendars require you to print a stock picture with an extended use license.
Check For Releases
Another way to avoid legal trouble when using stock photographs is to choose images carefully. According to law, the user, photographer, and even the stock photo website do not own the ‘rights’ to the models appearing in a picture. This includes:
- An identifiable person
- An identifiable pet
- Private properties
- Government buildings
- Special landmarks
- Trademarks and logos
To have the freedom to use images with the above models, the photographer must receive legal consent. But, some creators ‘forget’ to take the required releases, and stock photo agencies upload them without checking.
However, the liability of using a photo without permission falls on the user – you! Even if you were unaware, any potential lawsuit that takes place as a result of this infringement would be directed towards you. Therefore, ensure the presence of model release when using photographs with models or avoid them altogether.
Best Practices To Stay Safe
Here are some more tips to ensure you remain protected from the potential trial:
- Avoid using stock photographs in pornographic and adult-related posts.
- Avoid using stock photographs that can be defamatory towards a specific gender, race, religion, or political party.
- Don’t use stock photos in an endorsement.
- Don’t negatively use the pictures.
- Give attributes as an ethical act.
- If you plan to edit or crop the stock photo, make sure the license allows modification.
Sourcing images is one of the biggest challenges faced by marketers. This is why many turn to stock photo sites that offer quick access to an unlimited number of pictures. However, do keep the above tips in mind to ensure you remain legally safe. Good luck!