Copyrights and the Images on your Small Business Website

In today’s world most small businesses must have a website.  Many unwitting business owners simply download images they see on the internet and place them on their own website.  Either these business owners do not consider the copyright laws or assume the chances of getting caught for using an unlicensed image are slim to none.  It is important to know that the largest digital media companies now have sophisticated web crawlers that search the web for sites displaying their images.  (Read: Your website will be found.)  Once these digital media companies find a website with their unlicensed image, they will send your business a copyright infringement notice demanding hundreds of dollars (or thousands depending on the image).   Taking down the image will not be enough to appease them and if you ignore the letter, you are risking a lawsuit.

Of course you can properly license an image from a reputable digital media company by paying a licensing fee and then use it on your website with peace of mind.

In the alternative, there are a number of online sources of free images.  These sources provide images that can be used on your website as long as you give proper attribution to the image owner.  (Read the terms carefully, reselling images in any way is often not allowed.)  For example, check out:

Flickr Creative Commons: http://www.flickr.com/creativecommons/ where thousands of people upload photos and allow others to display them on websites etc.

Find photos available under “Attribution License” and always attribute the image owner as follows:

Image by Flickr user NAME OF USER LINKED TO IMAGE ON FLICKR (Creative Commons)

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