Legally using images in your social media marketing

social media marketing

Images are a massive part of Social Media marketing. In fact, it doesn’t really work without them. But do you ever wonder if you are violating copyright laws? Don’t worry I’m here to provide you with all the information to make sure you and your business are protected.

The Basics

Luckily you don’t need to go to law school or read a book to learn a few basic rules which will help keep you protected when it comes to copyright.

Copyright is “the exclusive and assignable legal right, given to the originator for a fixed number of years, to print, publish, perform, film, or record literary, artistic, or musical material.” This means that as soon you type that blog post or put that photo onto any social media platform, you’re protected.

Copyright covers everything from literary works, performing arts and visual arts, digital content like websites and blogs, and motion pictures (movies, television, videos).

Something that a lot of people don’t know, is that Copyright protection happens automatically. This is because the work is presumed to be yours. You may still see people using the copyright symbol (©) as a way of saying I own this, but it is actually unnecessary.

Having copyright means that nobody can use your work without permission.

So, what happens if you break Copyright Law?

The best-case scenario if you infringe on someone’s copyrighted work, you could receive a polite letter/email from the author asking you to remove the material from your website. Or otherwise stop use of the work. Worst-case scenario is that you face criminal charges. It all depends on the severity of the infringement. It is also possible you could be sued.

So what are the best ways to make sure you’re protected?

Using Stock Images

Stock photos are professional photographs that are bought and sold on a royalty-free basis and can be used and reused for commercial design purposes. When signing up to a stock photo website, make sure to choose the right license. Normally, the more expensive the license is, the more you can do with the image.

Some licenses limit the purchaser to online media only (versus print), personal use only, or a certain number of uses, so be careful to check before you use it.

Use Googles Free-to-use image search

You can filter your results on Google Images to find images, videos, or text that you have permission to use. Use the Advanced Search filter called “usage rights” that lets you know when you can use, share, or modify something you find online.

There are 3 types of usage rights:

  • Free to use or share: Allows you to copy or redistribute its content if the content remains unchanged.
  • Free to use share or modify: Allows you to copy, modify, or redistribute in ways specified in the license.
  • Commercially: If you want content for commercial use, be sure to select an option that includes the word “commercially.”

So make sure to check carefully beforehand.

The best thing to do when you’re unsure whether you can use an image is just ask! Most people will be happy to let you use their image as long as you give them credit for it somewhere.

Of course, the best way to avoid any copyright is to actually create your own images! We like to use a free image tool called Canva. This tool is among the most effective ways for content creators to fake some advanced graphic design skills, as it’s really user friendly!

Depending on your budget, you could even hire a photographer and editor to help you create your own content. That way you’ll have the perfect images for your social media platforms.

Keep these tips in mind as you use images on social media. Educating yourself about copyright, social media platform terms, and image licenses is vital for every social media marketer.

Follow us on twitter @StrategySMedia for more helpful tips about Social Media Marketing


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