Stay Safe! Copyright Infringement is Expensive!

Stay Safe! Copyright Infringement is Expensive!

by Lisa Waters

You’ve written a fantastic article for your website or social media post. You’ve crafted an engaging SEO-friendly headline. All of your i’s are dotted, and t’s crossed. As you bask in the glory of your wordsmithery, you have one more task at hand. Find the perfect image! After all, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” and the pressure is on!

Before Hunting for That Perfect Photo, Stop!

There are a few things to consider:

It’s fast and easy to launch a Google search. In seconds, you’ll find something that fits what you’re searching for.

But wait! Most images found through Google are not licensed to use. No problem, you think. I’ll just provide a link/credit back to a photographer. Think again. If you use their image, a link or credit will not protect you from copyright infringement.

An image that doesn’t have a copyright notice or watermark attached to it is still protected by the law, and many radio stations have been getting nabbed lately.

There are pay-services available to photographers to search and find the use of their non-licensed images. But that’s not all. A simple Google image search makes it easy for the average person to find their work being used without permission.

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As technology continues to evolve, mistakes can be unforgiving and expensive. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to avoid unintentional mishaps and plenty of websites where you can grab stock images to avoid unwanted legal fees.

3 Sources For Copyright-Free Stock Images:

Here are three websites that offer images under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license. CC0 means you can copy, modify, distribute and use the photos for free, including for commercial purposes, without asking permission from or providing attribution to the photographer, although attribution is appreciated.


This site is my number one go-to! Pexels currently has over 25,000 free stock photos and they are adding more each month. All photos are hand-picked and hand-tagged by the Pexels team, which makes for high-quality image searches. Go To Pexels here>>>


Founded three years ago as a humble Tumblr blog, Unsplash has grown into an industry-leading photography community. Over three photos are downloaded a second on Unsplash and the site boasted hitting one billion photos viewed per month in December 2016. Go to Unsplash here>>>


Pixabay is a repository of almost 900,000 free high quality photos, illustrations, and vector graphics. In addition to downloading royalty free stock photos, the Website encourages you share your own pictures with people all over the world too! Go to Pixabay here>>>

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3 Sources of Low-Cost Images

Occasionally, the perfect image just isn’t available through CC0 licensed sites. But, the good news is that there are plenty of low-cost stock photography websites that keep you in compliance with copyright law, and don’t break your piggy bank!

iStock By Getty Images

You’ve probably heard of Getty Images – the most trusted and esteemed source of visual content in the world – but, don’t let the name scare you. Getty Images has a value offering – iStock by Getty Images – that offers tens of millions of stock photos, illustrations, videos and audio tracks with simple, affordable pricing. This service helps creatives and businesses, both large and small, produce their work on a budget with the quality you expect from Getty. iStock offers the choice of buying credits for one-off projects, or a subscription service starting at $40 for a limited number of downloads. Go To iStock here>>>

Stock Unlimited

“Unlimited Content. Unlimited Creativity” is the slogan of StockUnlimited. This subscription-based service has only been around since 2014, but they have quickly grown to over 800,000 visuals that are available to their subscribers. Members get unlimited downloads of stock graphics, images, icons, buttons, backgrounds and textures, starting at $9/mo, or $69/yr. Go to Stock Unlimited here>>>

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Graphic Stock

GraphicStock is a subscription-based resource for royalty-free graphics, images, icons, textures, backgrounds, and more. With a mission to provide “high quality content that household brand names are proud to use,” the Website gives Members unlimited downloads of over 300,000 images and graphic elements, starting at $49/mo, or $99/yr. Go To Graphic Stock here>>>

So, go online and search for images with confidence and without fear! Now, I am off to find the perfect image for this article!



Author: Lisa Waters

Lisa is an established Digital Media Director and creative team leader in Southern California. Her career began during the “Dot Com Boom” in the mid-90’s and grew with the ever-changing digital landscape over the past 20+ years. Lisa has served as a manager, graphic designer, programmer, salesperson, marketer, researcher, editor, analyst and educator. This experience has given her the ability to establish, motivate and manage creative teams to realize their full potential.

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