Finding high-quality, well-curated imagery for your company’s owned platforms (i.e. your website, Instagram etc.) can be challenging, especially as a service-based business when you’re not regularly shooting campaigns or product imagery. When you’re scrolling online it can be tempting to repurpose the imagery you find. However, we would strongly advise you don’t do this because this constitutes illegal copyright infringement.
Images that you come across on Instagram, Pinterest and other social media platforms are not copyright-free as they belong to another business This means you cannot use them on your platforms without consent. The only way to legally use these images is to get the written permission of the original creator. If the creator allows you to use their imagery you must credit them wherever you publish the image, for example in the caption copy of an Instagram post or underneath the image in a blog post.
It’s important to note, though, that the social media user who has posted an image to their account is not necessarily the original owner of the image. So you need to take some time to establish who ultimately owns the image. It can be challenging to work out who the original creator of an image is, particularly when it’s been shared multiple times on multiple platforms. However, there are tools available which can help.
Google Images can locate the original source of an image. Start by copying the link of the image for which you would like to find the original. Then visit https://images.google.com/ and click on the camera icon to the right of the search bar. Paste the link to the image into the search bar and press search. You can then filter through the results until you find the original. It’s also possible to use this tool to search using a screenshot of an image.
However, if you’re not willing to risk copyright infringement there is another way you can still use imagery on your sites.
Stock imagery libraries such as Unsplash, Pexels and iStock offer a wide range of copyright-free images you can download and use on your owned platforms. While you may wish to credit the original creator of the image, you are under no legal obligation to do so.
When looking for imagery to use on your owned platforms, as long as you choose one of the routes above, you can rest assured that your business will be compliant with copyright laws.