September 23, 2016

Don’t Make This Simple – Yet Potentially Expensive – Business Mistake

food photographyDo you ever use images from Google on your company’s website?  You need a picture and can’t afford to pay a photographer so you do a Google Image search, find one you like, and then put it on your site?   DON’T!!!

Let this be a cautionary tale for you.  Someone I know who runs a small business (not food related) was recently contacted by Getty Images threatening them with a lawsuit if a fine of a fairly large amount was not paid.  The letter stated that the company had used one of their images without permission on the company’s website. This is copyright infringement and they were looking to be compensated.

The small business owner hadn’t known that she was breaking the law.  She’d simply found a non-watermarked image on Google Images and assumed that since there was no watermark that she could legally use it.  Upon finding out she was wrong she immediately deleted the image and has been trying to find ways to work with Getty that won’t bankrupt her small company (like the fine will).  Since she initially got the letter she’s been doing more research and finds that this is not at all uncommon.  Getty, which represents the work of thousands of photographers, is going after businesses big and small.

I don’t want to paint this as Getty Images is a big, bad evil corporate because I don’t think that’s the case.  As I mentioned, Getty Images represents thousands of small businesses (the photographers) and is doing what they believe is in the photographers’ best interest – protecting their work and helping get them paid.

However, watching the anxiety that the entrepreneur I know is going through trying to clear this up, this is definitely a mistake I wouldn’t want to see any of you making.

If you need images for your website and/or other marketing material and either can’t or decide not to use your photographs, you can find royalty-free images (pictures you can use without paying for them) or buy always buy the rights to certain photographs through sites like (the site I use to purchase all my non-self taken images for this site),, shutter, or numerous other photography sites.   If you do purchase rights to the photos, make sure you understand how those images can be used so that you stay within the legal boundaries of what you’re paying for.

Hate to end the week on this bit of tough news; but better safe than sorry, right?

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