Are You A Content Creator? If yes, then you should know how copyright works for pictures!!

Everyone has heard, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Pictures are also worth a crap load of money for the person suing you for copyright. So let’s talk about online picture copyright and its fair use laws (in the United States). Pay attention to this it could save you a lot.

What is a Copyright?

We generally see the little © over many places, but what does that mean and how did it get there! To get a accurate understanding of copyright, Visit the most official source that anyone could think of – the United States Copyright Office.

Copyright, a form of intellectual property law, protects original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture (source: US Copyright Office).

Now we get a pretty explicit description of what copyright is, it’s time to address when copyright protects a piece of work.

Copyright attaches second a piece of original work which  is created. This applies to both published and unpublished work. Copyright protections are in effect the moment when  you write a blog , snap a photo, or create a video. The moment of uploading a selfie, is also protected by a copyright.

Copyright is an automatic right and registering  work with the US Copyright Office. The automatic nature of law gives you the freedom to place a © on any of your work area. If you choose to bring a lawsuit for infringement, you have to register your work.

Exclusive Rights of Copyright-

Copyright is that it gives the creator an original work complete control for  its use and distribution. The Copyright Act have five rights for a copyright owner:

  1.  Right to reproduce the copyrighted work.
  2.  Right to prepare derivative works based upon work.
  3.  Right to distribute copies of the work to the public.
  4.  Right to perform the copyrighted work publicly.
  5.  Right to display copyrighted work to the public.

About Fair Use

Fair use is an exception and also a limitation to the rights  that are granted by copyright to the creator for a piece of work. In US, fair use allows for limited use of copyrighted material The purpose of fair use is to provide limited use in case it benefits the public.

The fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright (source: 17 USC Section 107). 

Fair use isn’t a black or white sort of thing. A lawyer with a very in-depth understanding of copyright law and online images copyrights, there can be a lot of confusion for  what is considered beneficial to the public. Here are the four factors for determining whether the use of an image is considered  to be“fair”or not.

  1. Purpose of use: educational, nonprofit, scholarly, reporting, reviewing, or research
  2. Nature of use:  The fact-based content (courts are usually more protective of creative works)
  3. Amount and Substantiality : Utilising only a small piece of the image or using only a small thumbnail or low-resolution version of the image.
  4.  Market effect: you have not purchased or licensed the copyrighted work

Using a low-resolution image is probably not an ideal situation if your goal is to create a professional piece of content. On the other side, if you’re involved a movie or a book review, it’s good to know that inserting a picture of the film or book won’t get you into trouble.

Woman editing images on a computer to comply with copyrights.


Create Your Own Images

You can also create your own images using graphic design tools like OmniGraffle, Indesign, or Photoshop. But If you don’t have an ounce of design skill in your body, try to use a tool which aims to make design simple for everyone like Canva, Snappa, and Pablo.And If the cost of design software is holding you up, try testing out Vectr, a free graphics software, or Gimp, a free and open-source image editor.

Download Free Photos Here!!

If you use a lot of images, or you don’t have the budget to pay for images, you can always download free stock photos here. It is a shortlist of some of free stock image sites:

  • It has hundreds of beautiful high-resolution photos that are free from copyright restrictions. They add new photos every week and you can also subscribe to them sent to your inbox.
  • Unsplash: It is built by a community of over 41,000 photographers who generally aim to inspire. This site has around 200,000 images that companies including Slack, WordPress, Squarespace, and Apple have used for them.
  • Flickr: It  is probably the most popular resource for free stock images. They have a combination of professional photos. So if you have to do some digging to find what you want you can do here.
  • Stock.Xchng:  This is a robust search engine, it is one of my preferred places to “shop” for free images. Stock.Xchng is owned by iStock, thats why the first row of images are often paid images – but the pictures that follow are entirely free!
  • PixabayIf you’re running for high-quality images, Pixabay is where it’s. Also, you don’t have to create an account to download a picture. Just click “download,” and you’re set to go for download.


Purchase Stock Photos

The perk of choosing paid over free is that you’ll have a much easier time finding what you’re looking for. Here are a few of my favorite resources:

  • Getty Images:  With one of the largest image databases (over 80 million still images and illustrations), they guaranteed to find what you are looking for here. The images are often expensive.
  • Fotolia:  It’s subscription service can save a lot of money if you plan on using images often.
  • iStock: If you have a particular image in mind, iStock’s awesome search box will help you quickly get what you need.
  • Cutcaster: Cutcaster gives you the opportunity to pay as you go. Also, their photos are extremely organized.


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