Can you use this pictureCongratulations! You’ve found the exact picture to use on your website. It is the perfect representation of what your post, or page is about. Now comes the big question, is it legal to use it?

There is, of course, the popular adage “It is often easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission.” But it is also a good way to get sued. I prescribe to the new adage “It is better to do it right in the first place.”

So how do you know if it is okay to use?

The first question I’d ask is, what are you using it for? Is your site commercial or editorial? This is very important, as some images are okay to use depending on how they are being used. Which brings up the next question.

Where did you find the picture?

On a stock photo site? Great. But before you purchase and use the image, be sure to read the license agreement. An editorial licensed image cannot be used on a commercial site. Be sure and know if you can use the picture on your site before you buy.

On social media? While it is usually considered okay to repost an image within the platform, using it on a commercial website could very well be a breach of copyright. Your best bet is to contact the original poster and get their permission. (Provided they had the right to use it in the first place.)

On a search engine or someone else’s website? It is not a good idea to take an image off another website without getting permission to use it.

It is safest, and also more effective, to use your own photos. But there are some caveats here, too. Make sure they are really good quality photos. So, if you aren’t a great photographer find some who is. Also, be sure that you have model releases for everyone in the pictures. Even though they’re your best friend, it is smart to have written permission. There are sample releases available on line. It is also not a good idea to try and duplicate another person’s photo, there could be a copyright problem if you do.

Always take care and be sure you have the right to use that picture before you it goes up on your website.

Follow this link to find a chart that can help you be sure you’re safe.