Image use on websites

Every website we build has images. Everyone of those image belong to someone. So, the basic rule of images use on websites (and any other media) is…. if you don’t own it, don’t use it.

That may come as a bit of a shock to some of you who probably think if its on Google, it’s free? This is a common misconception and in truth the likelihood of getting caught is slim. But if you do get caught, the penalties are high. basically the owner/creator could take you to court for copyright infringement for £1,000’s not including court costs.

We did it! many years ago a local business used our imagery for an international publication. The cover photo was of my son aged about 4 years old. So not only dd they not ask for permission to use, they were using photos of a child without parental approval!

They didn’t go to court. Like so many of these cases it was settled out of court, that’s why you don’t hear much about these cases. Once found, you are banged to rights and you have to role over with a lighter wallet!

As I said above, if you don’t own it, don’t use it. Stick to that and you’ll be OK.

Also, if you are offered images, ie: from a supplier, friend, relative, make sure you have written permission to use and state what you are using it for. You may also need to disclose if you want to edit the image. Circulation (print run) may also affect usage.

There are many permutations for image use so as I’m not a legal expert I’d always refer you to the experts. Here’s a great link for the definitive guidelines for copyright.

design presentation - Nigel StevensonA good source for images that are OK to use are the image libraries. There’s a small charge and licensing to consider but on the whole these are safe areas and millions of images to choose from. Here’s a good image library:

Be careful when using images you have not taken yourself


Who owns this photo of me taken in The Beaney Institute, Canterbury?
I was giving a lecture to new businesses on behalf of The Centre for Micro Business. The ‘creator’ was Roger Gabriel so he owns the copyright

also see: Website image use are you legal