The issue of image usage in blogs and on websites is one that many people are confused about. I can’t tell you the number of clients who just want me to “find some good images on the internet” for their blog or website in general. (Then get a little frustrated when I explain why I can’t do that.) Many people don’t understand that just because an image shows up in a Google Image search, doesn’t mean it’s free for you to use.
Why is this important?
Because it may cost you to use an image you don’t have rights to. It may cost you money and possibly legal proceedings, especially from one of the stock image houses.
What should you do?
Take your own pictures, pay for the rights or obtain free images from a free stock image site with usage rules. If you’re using a free site, be sure to read up on usage rules. Most of the stock image sites have reasonably priced plans. This is why many bloggers get into photography.
What’s an image comp & what can you do with it?
An image comp is a sample watermarked image for you to test in your design. It is free and provided to you for the design process. Since it’s not licensed, you can’t publish it because you don’t have the rights to it. You’ll have to swap the comp for a paid-for licensed image before using it. When you publish your post, be sure to swap out the comps for a licensed version. Stock images are tagged. In publishing an unlicensed image, you risk fines and legal action against yourself and your organization.
Can I really get caught?
Yes. Images are tagged.
What should you do?
Make sure that you’ve either taken the image or licensed it properly. Keep in mind that sometimes free stock images are licensed based on how the image is being used. For example, sometimes there are different rules for a for-profit, not-for-profit and non-business website usage.
Even more confused?
Here’s a great site for the details of properly using stock images.