Supposing you are blogging for a while now, you probably ran into the following problem before.
To strenghten your blog content you are adding some images to it. You found those images on Google Images probably. Because that’s simple and fast. But this can be dangerous for your bank account.
Images that you find on Google Images, are found bij Google’s robots on web pages all over the world. Based on the file name and attributes they determine what’s on the image.
As you may know, it’s child’s play to save and use those images on your website or blog. But this doesn’t mean those images are royalty-free. So using the images you found without further investigation can be very expensive eventually.
Getty Images (aff.) for example, one of the biggest online platforms to buy stock photos, makes a business out of it.
Besides their normal business model of exploiting rights on images, they are generating a lot of money in other ways. We can discuss about their approach, but in principle they are right. Would you like it if people where using your products or services without paying?
The fact that Google is indexing the images doesn’t mean you can use them. Google is also indexing text, not meaning you can use it neither.
Let me give you an example. Imagine you are blogging about “export” and you find this image on Google Images (I don’t insert it, since I didn’t pay for it ;-)) and use it in your article.
The is a typical stock photo image. You can see it immediately. When you insert the image URL on Google Images, you’ll find out almost 300 websites using it.
You can assume not all of them did pay for it. In most cases this will be ignorance, but that doesn’t mean the owner or seller of the image doesn’t have a juridical case.
Don’t forget to first delete the images you are not allowed to use from your website. This takes some steps. Start with deleting the images from your server, so they don’t show up on your pages anymore.
But that’s not enough! The images can stay in Google’s memory for months if you don’t take action on it. To avoid this, you have to delete each image via Google Webmaster Tools. Yes, that’s a hell of a job, shit happens.
A logical solution to avoid expensive fines is to buy images. There are several good stock platforms on the web, varying in pricing strongly;
Another possibility is using Flickr. Search for “export” and you’ll get a lot of good results. The images may be a bit worse, but that’s normal when something is free.
For each Flickr image you can see the royalty information and where and when you may use it. A lot of images are free to use and furthermore free for commercial use or reuse. If you look carefully to the rights, this could be a good solution for your website.
By the way, don’t forget to mention the source for each image. Just to be sure.
Solution for WordPress
WordPress users can install a nice plugin to easily add Flickr images including a citation. I used it and it was easy to use because the plugin is filtering out images you can’t use.
The images are being loaded from Flickr’s servers, so don’t take any web space or data. Disadvantage of this is your findability via Google Images will get worse.
I am curious what’s your opinion on this issue. How do you handle this? There might be more good solutions. So feel free to leave your comment. I hope there will be a good discussion on it and that people will get aware of the fact that not all images are free to use. I think that’s the biggest problem.