Image Copyright And Why You Could Be Next To Be Sued

I have worked as a web developer since 2004 and in that time I have come across the same story many times. Just this week 2 clients have tried to land themselves in the same trap and it continues. And it’s an expensive mistake when you are caught out, potentially landing you with a court summons and a bill for thousands of pounds or dollars.

imagetheftThe issue is images. Photographs, drawings or whatever. Choose a good few images and you can really make your site work well for you. Choose bad ones and it looks dreadful. What do you do?

Many people then resort to Google Images. A quick look for  their keyword in Google Images usually turns up dozens of images. Open one and it is easily saved. Bingo, job done these people think.

What exactly is wrong with Google Images for website images?

But stop there. Where did those images come from originally? If that site took the image themselves then they own the copyright for the image. However, if that site, designer or owner paid for the image from a stock photo library then it is likely that someone else owns the copyright and that stock photo library will be on the case, making sure that all uses of their images are licensed.

You can’t get around it. Simply resizing the image, adding a colour fade, merging it in with another image or whatever doesn’t make it your original copyright. If you use an image that someone else has produced it is their copyright. It is then up to them if they allow you to use the image for free.

The safest option is the honest option

The safest way to get around it is to always use stock libraries. There are loads about and with these they keep a record of what you have downloaded and if there’s a problem with the images in the future (for example someone has uploaded copyrighted content) then they deal with it for you.

However, this can be extremely expensive. Some paid stock libraries start off from a couple of dollars per download whilst some can start off at $50. If you need a lot of images, maybe on a daily basis, then this becomes prohibitive.

There are also the free options

There are a lot of free stock libraries out there too. These can be great to use but you must be careful on how you use them. Some are free only to certain types of uses or sites. e.g. if you are a hobby blogger the images are free, but if you are a commercial blogger then they are not.

Also, there’s the issue of ‘attribution’. Here you have to link back to the library in return for the free access to the image. Again it varies from library to library and usage to usage.

Royalty free Verses Free

You have to be very careful searching for ‘free’ images. For example, I’ve just tried ‘free stock photos’ and the 4th result is iStockPhoto – which is a paid directory. What they are offering is not free images but royalty free images. You pay to download them but then don’t have to pay every time that you use them.

It’s a small but subtle difference in the phrase that can mean the difference between a genuinely free image and a costly mistake. And “I didn’t realise” is not a defence. This is something that you are expected to know in the eyes of the libraries. Use their images by mistake and you are in trouble. And I know of people who have received these costly letters.

Finding free libraries

But these free libraries can be very useful, especially to new bloggers. How do you find them? There are directories and lists out there, but there is also a book available by Lysa Wylds (link to her website, not the book) which is called The Ultimate Guide To Free Stock Photos (affiliate link). If you are stuck looking for photos then this 58 page should have some ideas of libraries to look in!

Don’t risk it, just don’t risk it!

But don’t risk downloading images from Google Images. Someone somewhere owns the copyright and if, or probably when, they catch up with you there will be a nasty letter arriving addressed to you with a demand for a lot of cash. It’s not worth the risk.

For the record!

Images on this page sourced from &

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The Importance Of Going Mobile (Infographic)

As a new blogger, or even a well established website owner, do you really appreciate how important it is for your business that you are mobile friendly? I’ve looked back over the traffic stats for the last few years to see just how vital mobile friendliness is.

Infographic - the importance of being mobile friendly.

What have I looked at?

In short, I looked back through the Google Analytics data on sites that I know have not been drastically altered over the last 5 years and pulled out the data of number of sessions for July 1st to September 30th each of these years.

Google kindly split this data up for me into desktop, mobile and tablet. The growth of the mobile & tablet columns look small, but the combined effect really eats into the desktop column.

What can we see?

So in 2011 we were seeing a handful of visitors arriving via mobile phones. This figure actually remained quite static for 2012, however that seemed to be the year that the tablet appeared and caught up, doubling the traffic from non-desktop visitors. (I don’t know, but it could be that Google recorded tablets & mobiles the same that year?)

2013 saw the traffic through tablets and phones double again and 2014 saw the last significant increase in tablet traffic, but phone traffic continued to rise steadily.

In simple terms, this data is seeing mobile phone traffic increasing by 5% per year. And this from sites that have not been changed recently and that includes not being made mobile friendly (the sites are huge, written as individual HTML page and would take years to rebuild!) If you looked at a mobile friendly website instead the percentage of mobile visitors might well be higher as they would be ranking higher in mobile searches.

What can you do?

If you can, go mobile friendly. Whether that is a mobile version of the website or a responsive website is your choice. If you are working with tools such as WordPress ensure that you are only using themes that are mobile friendly.

If you can, as you install and test your theme double check it on a phone. If you don’t have a suitable phone there are simulators on the internet that will display your website as a visitor would see it on a mobile device.

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