Ask Emma: How can I lawfully use images on my website or blog?

Ask Emma: How can I lawfully use images on my website or blog?
Enterprise Nation
Enterprise NationEnterprise Nation

Posted: Fri 22nd Sep 2017

Use copyrighted images without a licence and you could receive a fine. Enterprise Nation founder Emma Jones explains how to avoid it.

A business owner recently told me how they'd uploaded to their website images they felt could be freely used as they showed public figures and moments of national interest. They were wrong!

An email from Picright, the organisation charged with policing the web for The Press Association, alerted the business owner to their use without a licence and issued a fine.

It made me look more closely at how small businesses should act to be lawful, whilst also working within a budget.

Picright say: "Copyright exists at the moment of creation, ie any time a photo is taken, copyright sits with the photographer and photographers rely on earning income from taking such photos."

It's set out in a video here:

But what about images that are taken, not by professional photographers, and uploaded to social media for the purpose of sharing?

The default position is to always check copyright and pay or ask for permission to use.

According to the official government notice from Intellectual Property Office, images that have been found on the web may be used in the following situations:

  • you know the copyright term has expired

  • you have permission from the copyright owner for exactly what you want to do with it (for example, to display it on your website). This may be in the form of something like a licence you purchase from a picture library or a Creative Commons Licence or you use the images for specific purposes known in law as permitted acts

My advice to businesses is:

  • Take your own pictures wherever possible. We have built a library of images from Enterprise Nation events and of members that we use site and company-wide

  • Consider image libraries such as iStock and Shutterstock that come with licensing built in but also do incur a cost

  • Find a Creative Commons image platform: where you can use images for free. Platforms include Pixabay where no permission from, or credit to, the photographer is required, and Compfight which is free to use but does require credit given to the copyright holder

Do you know other useful sites when it comes to the lawful use of images? I'd love to see them in the comments below.

Are you an Enterprise Nation member with a question you want to ask Emma? Email and she might pick yours.

Also in the Ask Emma series:

Enterprise Nation
Enterprise NationEnterprise Nation
Enterprise Nation has helped thousands of people start and grow their businesses. Led by founder, Emma Jones CBE, Enterprise Nation connects you to the resources and expertise to help you succeed.

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