It’s been an ongoing thing for people to randomly pick beautiful images from the website and use them for personal and commercial use as photos can be easily searched and saved from the internet.
However, this can cause disasters in forms of infringement letters and potential lawsuits. It’s time to educate ourselves and determine which images are copyrighted and which ones are we lawfully allowed to use.
1. Learn about the General Signs of a Copyrighted Image There are a few give-away signs to detect if the image is copyrighted or not. And the simplest tell-tale signs are:
- WATERMARKS — Watermarks can easily be seen as there’s an overlay of a logo of the owner on most times. It can be a large transparent overlay on the middle of the photo or a repeated diagonal transparent overlay. And even a small but visible watermark at the right corner of the photo.
- A COPYRIGHT SYMBOL (©) on the photo
- A MESSAGE indicating ownership - This can be seen on free images sites when owners of the photo ask for attribution for the image.
- IMAGE IS NOT YOURS — This is the simplest way to determine if an image is copyrighted or not. Although not all photos have been officially copyrighted, the moment someone snapped a photo, created a design, it’s theirs and they have the sole right to distribute and duplicate.
2. Research and Determine
Here are a few tips on how you can make sure — double SURE — that the image you found isn’t a copyright:
- REVERSE-SEARCH - Google has this Google Images feature you can use to make sure if anyone else posted this image before you.
- Check with AUSTRALIAN COPYRIGHT COUNCIL for good measure (only if it has to lead to that)
3. LEARN FAIR USAGE FOR IMAGES Listed below are a few questions when image rights are under the analysis of Infringement Investigation:
- How is photo or image used?
- What is the “nature” of the copyright?
- How much portion of the copyrighted image is used?
- What kind of influence does the copyrighted piece have on the market?
The simplest way is to ask the owner’s permission for reuse as there are cases when simple attributions or disclaimers doesn’t legally allow the images for use. Especially when images are not found with creative commons licensing or public domains.