Finding the Perfect Eye-Catching Imagery — Without Breaking IP Laws!!

Nov 5, 2021

When it comes to establishing and promoting your brand, the imagery you use matters perhaps even more than your words. We live in a very visual world. Images draw people in. A strong, eye-catching image can make your business look more appealing, while a bland image will lead to it fading into the background. Images are used in blogs and social media, in your ads and your branding. But images also often belong to the photographer, or whoever bought them from the photographer. Using copyrighted images for your marketing can result in legal action and an adverse effect for your brand.

So how do you find the perfect imagery for your marketing? Here are a few of our tips:

Understanding Creative Commons

When looking for imagery that you can legally use, one thing that will come up is “creative commons.” While it’s most well known as a type of license, Creative Commons is actually a non-profit organization dedicated to making creative works more accessible and creating bridges of what is able to be legally shared and used. They give creative works several different types of licenses, each of which mean something different, including(1):

  • CC BY – CC BY licenses allow you to use images for commercial use, adapting, remixing, or building upon the image as you see fit — as long as credit is given to the creator.
  • CC BY-SA – CC BY-SA allows for all the same uses, but if the image is “remixed” for your purposes, the adaptation should fall under the same license as the original image.
  • CC BY-NC – CC BY-NC allows adaptations, sharing, and building upon an image with credit given to the creator, but only for non-commercial use. There is also CC BY-NC-SA, which requires any adaptations to fall under the same license as the original image.
  • CC BY-ND – allows you to share or distribute the image…but it must remain exactly as is, with “no derivatives.” CC BY-NC-ND also requires that image to be for non-commercial use.
  • CC0 – This means that the image is fully in the public domain, and everything is free to use or remix as you like.

It’s also helpful to know that Google Images has a Creative Commons filter. On Google, under tools, you can filter “Usage Rights” for: All, Creative Commons, or Commercial & Other Licenses.

Use Royalty Free Image Databases

One easy way to find images that can be used without breaking any IP laws is to find them on a royalty free image database. Many of these sites are completely free to use and require no registration, while some offer a wider range of images for a monthly fee. Some popular royalty free image databases include:

  • Pixabay
  • Unsplash
  • Shutterstock (with plans beginning at $29/mo)
  • Pexels

Create Your Own Images

The problem with using royalty free stock images is that they can be limited if you’re looking for a specific type of imagery. If you need something more obscure, the way to go might be to use your own imagery or to hire someone who can. Maybe that means a photograph of a tree nearby that you feel resonates with your brand. Maybe you want a logo that’s somewhat fantastical. If you have graphic design ability, you might create your own images for your website or marketing material. If not, you might hire someone else. These are also the same skills you can use to create your own infographics, boosting your SEO on social media content.

Creating your own business, marketing that business, and interacting with customers and competition is a journey covered in intellectual property questions and challenges. But you don’t have to handle it alone. With expert advice as well as legal support to help protect your own IP, Garcia-Zamor has you covered. Contact us today to learn more about our services or to set up a consultation.