The Dos and Don’ts of Using Images on your Website

Good quality images are essential to your website. Not only do they create a much more immersive and enhanced experience, images help to tell your story in a way that words simply cannot.

Our brains can process and identify pictures quite literally in the blink of an eye. Text takes far longer to process and is retained for much shorter periods of time. In our fast paced, information saturated world the need to grab the attention of your audience is greater than ever and there is no better way to do that than with great visual content.

Still not convinced? Research shows that content with visuals gets 94% more views than content without. If you want your content to be successful, it needs to be seen!

Before you go grab your camera or start searching Google Images, there are a few key things that you should know in order to avoid copyright infringement. To help you start creating amazing visual content the right way, we have created a list of the most important dos and don’ts when it comes to using images on your website.  

  • DO take your own photographs The images that you take belong to you, so go ahead and use them as you wish. There are however, certain exceptions regarding photographing people.
   
  • DO NOT publish a photograph of someone without their consent. If you snap a picture of a client in your office or a patient in your clinic, make sure to get their consent either verbally or in writing before you publish their photo (example 1). In most cases, people will happily oblige but it’s better to be safe than sorry. It is OK to use a photo when a person is not the main subject of the photograph. For example: if you take a picture of a street corner and people appear walking down the sidewalk or appear in the background etc. (example 2)
 
examples  
  • DO NOT publish other people’s photographs. If you’re searching the internet looking for that perfect image to add to your website, latest blog or social media post STOP. You cannot publish other people’s photographs without permission. It is also important to remember that giving credit to the photographer or citing the source does not negate copyright infringement. The good news is that there are plenty of resources for photographs out there, many of which are free, you just have to know where to look.
   
  • DO use FREE stock photography websites. To most people’s surprise, there are many resources available for free, high quality stock photos that can be used for any legal purpose. Here are some of our favorite websites for free photos:
     
  • DO purchase stock images. If you still can’t find what you’re looking for there are always stock images that you can purchase for very reasonable rates. Websites such as www.istock.com or www.shutterstock.com provide amazing search filters that allow you to find very specific images. For example; you can narrow down your search results to find images that are only a specific orientation (horizontal, vertical, square, etc.) or within a specific colour range.
 
  • DO use Google’s advanced search filters to find images that are free to reuse. Within Google images you can filter your results to only show you images that are labeled for reuse. However, it is always recommended that you verify the source of the image even if it is labeled for reuse because there may be certain restrictions or conditions, for example: the image is free to reuse as long as a credit is given to the photographer. Follow these steps to turn on the filter in Google:
  google-image-search-web
  • DO NOT plead ignorance. Simply claiming that you “didn’t know” or you thought it was OK because there was no indication to think otherwise does not make you exempt from the law. When in doubt, don’t publish! If you’ve saved an image to your computer and you can’t remember where it came from, try uploading it to tineye.com a reverse image lookup that will help you find the source.
 

The value of using images to grab the attention of your audience is undeniable but it is important to comply with best practices. The penalties for copyright infringement are real and can be quite harsh.

 

Note: we are not lawyers; therefore the information provided in this article is based solely on our personal research and experience. For legal advice, please consult a legal professional.

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