How To Use Stock Photography Legally for Your Business

It happened.

I was scrolling Instagram the other day and saw that a fellow entrepreneur who I admired had tagged me. I was SO excited to see what she posted, but when I saw it my heart sank. She had tagged me because she had taken one of my photos that I sell in my Content Assist membership group and she is not a member. The post had nothing to do with me, but she had used my photo and tagged me to give me credit. However, did you know that merely tagging someone when you use their photo is illegal?

When you create something like a content workbook, a photo, or even a piece of art you immediately own the rights to that creation whether you register it or not. That’s because these creations have value. In my case, the photo that the entrepreneur had used without purchasing it is my intellectual property. I paid to have the photo created and I paid for the rights to use that photo as my subscribers to Content Assist pay for the right to use that photo. So, when someone else uses something that you have the intellectual property rights to without paying for it they are not only stealing that image or art but they are devaluing your product. And when this happens the property owner can ask for damages or monetary compensation.

Since I admire this person I sent her a quick note letting know that while I was flattered she had chosen one of my images to promote her business she either needed to pay to be a member of Content Assist or take the image down. However, not all intellectual property owners will approach things this way. There are stories all over the internet of people who have taken an image to use on their blog or social media and have had to pay thousands of dollars in damages. In fact, I have many photographer friends who have had their images stolen have had collected thousands in damages from business who chose to use their images without holding the proper usage rights.

This may sound harsh, but if you are a content creator or artist creating things is how you feed your family. It’s your livelihood and many people put their hearts and souls into creating images and content.

Can I Use This Photo To Market My Business?

So how do you make sure that the images you are using for your business will not get you sued or put you out thousands of dollars? You need to make sure you have the rights to use those images. (Something to note here, even free stock photography have licensing you need to be aware of so read the terms on free stock photo sites carefully.)

Stock Photography Licensing Explained

  • Royalty-Free: Royalty-free means you can use an image without having to pay based on the usage of the image. Royalty-free images could be free or there might be a one-time payment, but you can then use the photo as many times as you like.
  • Commercial Use Allowed: This means you can use an image to promote your business. If a license states that you can use an image for personal use only you cannot use it to promote your business. Most stock photo sites allow commercial use but you will want to read the terms to make sure.
  • No Attribution Required: This means you can use an image without giving the photographer credit. If you use an attribution required image without giving the photographer credit you can be sued for copyright infringement.
  • Rights Managed: This means that an image can be used temporarily. The use could be limited by time or number of times the image is used. If an image is still being used after these limitations have expired the user could be sued for infringement.

How to Make Sure You Have The Rights To Use An Image Online

Your best bet to make sure that you have the right to use an image is to use a reputable stock photography site or to purchase images from the owner with a license that offers royalty-free, commercial use and no attribution required usage.

Our Content Assist images offer all three licenses to our users for only $20.

Learn more about Content Assist here.

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