Humans tend to be very visual creatures. In fact, I like pictures very much myself. I use Instagram and Chatbooks like a boss. Probably you do too and everyone else. So it comes as no surprise that many social media posts and platforms heavily rely on the use of images in their updates.

Pictures are Great, But…

Here’s the thing though: you can’t just use any image in your posts. There are a whole lot of photos out there that you don’t own and as a result, cannot use in your posts.

In fact, those images may be copyrighted by someone else and if you use them, you might get sued.

I know I sound a bit alarmist but some of these copyright cases have been for millions of dollars. Every day, we see a few more people using images they found and opening themselves to considerable risk.

Google Images Aren't Good to Use

Here’s how to tell if you should not use a photo: If you found the image by typing something into Google and then saved the first image that came up that you liked, you probably can’t use it.

Professional photographs look fantastic. Which is exactly why they’re protected by copyright law. Instead, you can use pictures you find on sites like pixabay or create your images in canva or picmonkey, or use images that your distributors have provided for commercial use or take your own photos.

There are so many photo alternatives that there’s honestly no reason to risk getting sued.

And getting sued is an honest possibility. Businesses of all sizes have been involved in multi-million dollar lawsuits over image copyright issues. Copyright infringement penalties are scary. Yet a growing number of people are doing it, lulling others into believing that it’s ok.

Not sure if you’re using your images correctly? We’re happy to help. Reach out to talk or get a social media audit to better understand how to protect your business and yourself.

[Edited to add: Google does allow you search Google Images by various filters including “Labeled for reuse”, etc., however when doing so, you’ll see that Google still notes “Images may be subject to copyright”.]

About KristinZaslavsky (283 Posts)

Kristin has spent her career designing marketing applications that are easy to use, making technology adoption easy on businesses and their clients. She loves nothing more than to patiently show people that technology doesn't need to be scary (even though it sometimes feels like it does).

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