If you intend on using stock images on a website, in a magazine, or in a digital publication, then it is crucial that you know how to find them and what your rights are. The right images can do a great deal in order to elevate a piece of content and make it more interesting and engaging. Not only that, but seeing as images are often shown alongside the title when articles are shared on social media, the picture that accompanies your story is very likely to be one of the key influencing factors that determines whether or not your content gets clicked.
One of the biggest issues surrounding web publishing is copyright. Many webmasters and bloggers are mistakenly under the belief that they can simply search Google Images for an image, save it, and then post it on their website. Actually, Google has recently removed this functionality from its image search, which should be a clue as to the fact that this is no longer accepted practice.
The problem is that these images unless they are in the public domain, are protected by copyright. That means that you can’t simply show them on your site, without express permission from the creator.
The good news is that in most cases, you won’t find this is a problem. Actually, there is no immediate penalty for this particular breach of copyright – especially if you make sure to cite your source. To do this, simply add a caption to the image that states where you got it from. If you will use the image this way, then it’s also important that you do not edit the original image and certainly don’t try to remove any watermarks.
That said, the best case scenario is always that you create your own images from scratch. Do this by taking photos or by editing the images yourself using tools like Adobe PhotoShop and Adobe Illustrator.
The reason this is better is not only that you will own the sole exclusive rights, but also that you will be able to take a photo that perfectly matches the content. This looks more professional and also means that your visitors won’t repeatedly see the same images as they go around the net. This can end up looking rather ‘generic’ otherwise.
Another option is to use stock image sites, like ShutterStock. Some of these are free to use, some have an attribution license (meaning a credit is required) and others will cost money. Generally, the ones worth using are the most expensive – of course!