Can I Use Images From Other Websites?

Brendan Egan

Can I Use Images From Other Websites?

We always talk about website content, how its the backbone of a website, and how duplicate content can kill your rankings.  But one of the things we don’t talk about too often are website images.  Website images are used nearly everywhere to make the site more visually appealing, from services pages to product pages to blog posts.  But could where you get your image be getting you into trouble?
We talked a while back about the top ways to avoid online related lawsuits, and the number one way to get sued online or have a major problem is by using images from other websites.

Can I Use Images From Other Websites?

99% of the time no, you cannot use images from other websites.  Images are copyrighted, whether a photograph, graphic design, or other image.  It amazes me at how often website owners and bloggers go around the internet, search on Google for the image they’re looking for, and just copy the image over to their website.  I guess the largest problem is not that they are looking to cause trouble, but just the fact that they don’t know any better and don’t have the time to properly research the topic.
The only time you can use images from other websites are when the websites specifically say you can, or if you contact the owner to ask if you can use the image.  But even in these cases be careful, because sometimes a website owner may not be the copyright owner of the image, or they might even be using the image illegally as well.

Computer Searching For Copyrighted Images

There’s a few large companies that own the rights to millions of images online, and they have computer programs going around scanning the web searching for their images used without a license.  If they find one, you’ll get a nasty letter in the mail asking you to pay some outrageous amount of money, like $1,000 per image, and if you don’t pay they threaten to sue you.
The unfortunate thing about this is that they’re generally on the right side of the law, and unfortunately even if you didn’t know better you can be financially responsible for using that image.

What’s The Best Solution For Finding Images?

There’s a few solutions, but the best solution is to use a stock-image company to purchase your images.  There’s hundreds of them on the web, and the prices can vary from $4 per image up to $250 per image depending on the image.  Most businesses can find what they’re looking for in the $4 to $10 range.
By using a stock image provider, you make sure you are getting copyright permission to use that photo.  But be careful and make sure its a lifetime usage license, and not just a monthly or yearly license that you’ll need to renew or keep paying for.
Images online are a sticky topic and get a lot of business owners into trouble, so do a little research and take the steps above and you should have no problems with finding and using images on your website or blog.