With all this publishing we’re all doing across social media, it’s easy to get carried away and see a great photo you like and just add it to your post. It won’t matter, right? Wrong.
STA Travel just found out the hard way that using a great shot you’ve found, without asking permission of the owner of said shot, can get you into hot water.
It seems they saw a photo online from a former customer and thought “that would look great in our own work” and just went ahead and used it both online and then in a printed brochure.
Now I hear you saying, “oh how silly of them, who does that?”. But think about it. When was the last time you added a photo to one of your posts without purchasing it or gaining approval from the owner of the image to use it? Or did you just go to Flickr, Google Images, or see something in your own feed and save it down and use it? We’ve all done it, some knowingly running the gauntlet and some unwittingly. But it’s all breaching copyright and you could find yourself in the same hot water STA are now in.
STA have done the right thing and taken the image down, but the owner of the photo still retains the right to sue them. Tricky situation because it breaches not only her copyright but also her privacy rights (a photo where the person can be identified falls under the Privacy Act). The ball is now in her court.
The hard part is that some sites say their images are ‘free to use’, but they rely on you to seek permission to publish. It’s easy to see how you can get into strife without realising it.
The best rule of thumb is – if you didn’t take the shot and seek permission from the talent shown within that shot to use it for promotional purposes, then you will need to either get approval to use or pay for it – or end up paying for it in other ways.
There are some great sites that let you buy images quite cheaply – Shutterstock, iStock, Stocksy and more – a quick Internet search will show you plenty to choose from. These sites you pay for the image but at least you know you’ve got permission to publish. As for the ‘free’ sites, be sure that if you’re using an image from these guys, you check the fine print to ensure you do indeed have permission to use.
*Meeshka the cat provided permission for quickbrownfox to use this image for promotional purpose