Use Caution when Distributing Images on a Website or Social Media

social media images - person with camera taking a pictureIn a recent lawsuit, Chipotle was sued for $2 billion by a woman claiming the company had no right to use her image in promotional materials. This case highlights the importance of owning the rights to any images you use on your website and social media, or at least having permission from the creator.

You might assume that pictures you take yourself are all yours, and with regard to images of inanimate objects, trees, even homes, you are probably pretty safe in the assumption. However when a person’s likeness is involved, you must be more careful, especially when characterizing a trait or business with the likeness. To be safe, if you take a picture that includes people, get their written permission before using the pictures on your site, in your social media, or in any promotional materials.

Online Image Usage

Pictures that you find on the internet are more complicated. These images were created by someone else and the rules vary as to how, or even if, the images can be used by others. Many types of licensure exist and each has subcategories that can further restrict legal usage. Three of the most common types that the average user will be able to utilize in some way are:

Public Domain Images

public domain images can be used on social media or websitesThese pictures are considered to be owned by the public, rather than by an individual. Typically you can use these types of pictures for any purpose without a need for attribution.

Royalty Free Images

Many assume that royalty-free means that anyone can use the pictures. However, these are typically covered by some type of copyright. You may pay for the right to use them, but you should make sure you know all the rules for each image. Some images may need to be attributed to their respective owners.

Creative Commons Images

creative commons symbol with two Cs in a circleThese pictures are licensed in some way. Various versions of Creative Commons licenses allow you to have different levels of freedom of use. Some simply require attribution and allow you to use the images as you wish, and some are more restrictive.

The safest bet is to use your own images in any material that you distribute publicly, whether on a social media post, blog or video. If you find images online, make sure you know under what conditions you can use them, and follow the rules, to avoid fines or lawsuits.

Call WSI for Professional Internet Marketing

The professional internet marketing specialists are experienced in creating top quality websites as well as great content for Search Engine Optimization, including blogs, videos, press releases, social media posts, and infographs. To learn how we can help you grow your business, contact one of our specialists today at 610-650-0227!


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