Many of us are guilty of, at some point, stealing images from the internet. Sure, stealing is wrong, but it’s the internet – everybody does it! It’s easy. It’s free. It saves us time. And it seems low-risk and high-reward. But the reality is, it’s not.
Using images from the internet is bad for your brand. Images and videos found online weren’t created for you. Worse, they were likely either created for every brand (making them bland and low-impact) or for a specific brand (maybe your competitor). Swiping a few images off the web is all your brand needs to have an identity crisis.
In addition, using images off the internet could be illegal. Depending on where you source your images, and the rights associated with that content, you could be violating copyright laws. This could be bad news for your company – and your reputation.
Luckily, you have options. There are a few hassle-free things you can do to maintain the integrity of your brand and stay on the right side of copyright law.
- Use a Digital Asset Management (DAM) system to tie usage rights to your assets. Having a DAM means you, or anyone you give access to can search for creative assets. The returns will be relevant, on-brand, and include any use restrictions.
- Check out the curated, royalty-free images available on stock image websites like Shutterstock. With thousands of images added every day in a range of prices that start with free, this is a good go-to option regardless of your size or budget.
- Filter your internet search by usage rights. Both Google and Bing offer easy-to-use image filtering based on usage rights. Your results will only show assets labeled for reuse and compliant with Fair Use. You may have a hard time finding exactly the right image, but this is a good way to go when free is key.
Whichever route you choose, it’s still important to understand what it means to be copyright protected. To help, we translated some basic copyright law from legalese to layman’s terms.