Don’t Post that Photo: Stealing from Photographers

Don’t use images that you do not have the rights to.

When you go to google images and grab a photo and then post it as your own in a social media post, you’re stealing.  Ethically, there is no difference between doing that and reaching into a photographers pocket and stealing money.  You’re taking something that does not belong to you because you want or need it.

Photography is a tough business. Few can make a living as a full-time photographer.  Most who try it part-time lose money.  They work hard and the photographs they take are their work.  When you use their work without their permission, you’re taking food off their table.  How would you feel if someone stole your work or took your work and passed it off as their own?  You would not be too happy.  Then why do that to a photographer?

There are no excuses for using a photo that you do not have the rights to use.  There are plenty of websites, some of which are free (photographers provide their photographs to those sites to gain exposure), that you can obtain photos that you have the rights to use.  If a photographer has taken a photo and you see it online and want to use it, reach out to them and ask for their permission. Most photographers will be more than happy to allow you to use their photo once in exchange for crediting them and they’ll be grateful that you reached out to them.  Some may redirect you to their website to purchase the photo for a few dollars; I suggest you buy it and support the small business photographer.

For those that are social media marketers or that use their social media or website to sell any type of service or product,  you need to especially pay attention to this advice.  The penalties for violating copyright laws is likely significantly more substantial than you realize. You may thin, “I’ll never get caught,” but every day across the country there are hundreds of such cases working their way through the courts, and unless the photographer is generously forgiving and agrees to drop the case or settle, you’re not going to win.  You’ll also ruin the reputation of your business and yourself as someone proven to have stolen the work of others, all because you were too lazy or too impatient to do the right thing.

Every image online was taken by, and belongs, to someone.  Don’t steal their work.  Take the time to do the right thing.


Featured Photo by James Bold on Unsplash 

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