Monday, 28 March 2011

Images, copyright and all that jazz

I know there's a lot written about how to link to images and so on when you're blogging but I thought I'd write a little post on image copyright and how it works when you're using them on your business website.

First up, I ain't no lawyer. Don't quote me on any of this! I have asked a lawyer and researched it but I can't guarantee I'm 100% accurate so please don't sue me. Ha.

So here's a biggie to start with:

All images belong to whoever took them.

That's a fact. But how and when you can use them often strays into what's moral and ethical as well as what's legal.

You don't have to officially 'copyright' a photo for it to be yours. You just have to take it.

The picture of the blossom tree on this page belongs to me. I took it. So if someone googles 'blossom tree' and through the beauty of SEO and the wonder of the internet, finds my photo can they use it? Well generally yes as long as they credit the source, i.e me.

But what if they are starting a gardening company say, and want to use my image to promote their business. The image is still mine. If they contact me and ask my permission I may say yes. Or might not. It's up to me. Regardless of where they find it.

One thing is certain, they should ask me. And if they can't find the source of the image? If for some reason they don't know I took this fab pic what then? Well they shouldn't use it. At all.

Using images on the internet is not a case of finders keepers. Photographers photos are their product. Using their images without permission is like stealing to them. They are naturally protective of their work and so whilst they can't monitor the whole internet, courtesy definitely goes a long way.

Aside from stock images, all images belong to whoever shot them and therefore if you want to use an photo for your website, you have to get permission. This applies to google images too.

When I started blogging I found the whole 'how do you link to images and credit properly' thing confusing. I probably got it wrong many times. The main point with blogs and websites is that you don't take credit for what isn't yours and if you're going to use an image belonging to someone else to promote your business check, then double check you have permission.

I think all wedding planners for instance, especially new ones, struggle when they don't have the images they want for their websites. It's pretty hard to showcase your ideas without good photos.

So team up with a photographer and organise a photo shoot demonstrating your style. That way you get amazing photos that you can use (although remember they always belong to the photographer). It's always far better to wait to launch your business with photos of your work than use images that you found on the internet. Aside from anything else it has more integrity and that's always a good thing.

What are your thoughts fellow bloggers/business owners?

P.S If any gardening business want to use this amazing image that I have taken I may just consider it ;)


  1. I'm sure I've got it wrong before and may get it wrong again but at least I want to try to get it right. Others, not so much!

  2. Not that difficult to grasp is it? Well done for writing a clear & informative post on what can seem like a murky subject.

  3. Great Post and makes the confusing issue very clear. we all make mistakes when we start out but when you have done it once you learn not to do it again.
    One of the reasons I set my own website out the way I did with more styalised images is that I didn't want pictures of other poples weddings all over my website, surely it's best to wait until you have a full portfolio of work. I even credit my own wedding photographer when usisng an image of myslef that she took, its her image originally after all!
    Great Post! xxx

  4. Excellent post! Obviously people make mistakes about this sort of thing and lots don't realise that someone can "own" an image, but ignorance is no defence! Especially for someone like a planner who should know better and, surely, wants to keep suppliers on their side! It's not wise to steal images off people you might actually want to work with in the future!!

  5. Good post, clearly expressed. When commissioning photographs from a photographer, make it clear in writing that the fee includes the sale of the copyright of the images. Copyright can be sold. Many photographers will try and wriggle out of this by offering a licence instead, but hold firm and tell your photographer he or she won't get the commission unless he/she agrees to sell the copyright. You'll have to pay extra, of course, that's only fair.

  6. Great post .. it can be so confusing when you first start blogging. I'm always trying to use images in my styling features that I can actually credit where I got it from but it is quite difficult sometimes. Obviously if its on your website promoting your own work it should be photos you've commissioned .. I would never use photos on my stationery website other than those I've actually had taken.

  7. Thank you all for your comments. It definitely can be a confusing area especially for newbies but as Sian says, ignorance is no defense!

  8. Great post and clear advice, I'll never sell a commercial copyright but a social one perhaps. I usually write into my wedding contracts that the bride and groom have rights to use the images but not commercially problem sorted.

  9. So glad this has been raised. I'm a newbie, trained with the UKAWP and working-towards-member-status. RESPECTING fellow suppliers and PROTECTING your own work is featured heavily in their ethics. Whether this relates to images, words, ideas. I started blogging summer 2010 and it IS a learning curve, I certainly hope early mistakes weren't made, but I would hold my hands up and rectify if they were. Only last week I tweeted 'when is a creative not a creative?' as I'm not flattered when I'm imitated, it's down right uncreative and wrong! I've changed my original blog copy for my imminent website launch because of recent 'plagirism', which doesn't mean I accept it, just as a new planner I know my own direction and USP and don't have to lazily search other sites to find my own style. Reading my words back to myself on someone elses site in the wrong context just confirms lack of creatviity. Starting out in the big wide world of weddings is hard, and rumours that all google images are for the taking is confusing, but common sense should prevail. Rant over! But very interesting piece. x


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