One thing some authors may not think about is whether the images they’re using are copyrighted when creating ads, sharing images on social media, or finding photos for their website and blog. It is always necessary to double check when sharing images (or any type of content really). This blog post will provide a few of my tips for finding great images to use for social media, your website, and blog!
According to the Social Media Examiner, “Copyright attaches as soon as the original work is created, and applies to both published and unpublished works. As soon as you type words [or] click the shutter on your camera… you’ve got a copyright.” This also means a copyright doesn’t have to be filed; it’s automatic. Registration is only necessary if you want to enforce the rights (Social Media Examiner).
If you’re a new author or content creator, you may not know why it’s important to avoid using copyrighted images. As Search Engine Journal states, “Those found guilty of copyright violation could face charges up to $150,000 for each infringement.” There are many serious consequences you could face if you violate a copyright, many of which involve paying heavy fines. You could also potentially be charged with jail time.
1. Using non-copyrighted images ensures you aren’t stealing someone’s intellectual property without their permission.
If an image or any piece of content is copyrighted, you can’t use it without the creator/copyright holder’s permission. However, if a piece of content like an image does not have a copyright, it can be used by anyone.
2. Download non-copyrighted images from websites that specialize in those types of images.
There are many websites where you can download and share non-copyrighted images for personal use. A few of my favorite sites to use are Pexels, Pixabay, and Unsplash. These sites allow users to enter keywords and search their large inventories for relevant photos.
3. Use public domain images.
Images in the public domain either have an expired copyright, were never copyrighted, or were published before 1924 (Search Engine Journal). Therefore, these images are free to use without permission. One site where you can find public domain images is Wikimedia Commons.
4. You can still give credit to the website or image creator.
Pexels and Pixabay both usually have the photographer’s name available if you would like to give them credit when using their photo. An alternative is to mention the website where the image was found.
5. You can also share social media images (with permission).
If a reader posts a creative photo of your book or of themselves reading your book and you want to post it on your own social media or website, you can message them and ask for permission to use the photo. If they agree, you should still give them credit by tagging them and/or mentioning their name in your post.
6. An alternative is to take your own photos.
Since most newer phones have amazing, high-quality cameras and there are many types of free photo-editing software you can download, it is easier than ever to take photos. With practice, you will realize which types of photos receive higher engagement online, which type of lighting to use, how to angle the camera correctly, and how to take creative photos that will stand out online.
I hope this blog post was helpful in providing new authors with more information about which types of photos are legal to use online! If you have more tips about sharing photos and using non-copyrighted photos, please feel free to comment below.
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