Article by Weblium based on interviews with our experts.

Is it worth the trouble to buy images or can you take any picture online and add it to your website?

The Internet is full of different images, and it may seem that it’s enough just to download any picture and use it for your purposes. But here’s a tricky part: not all images come under a free-to-use license. Using images without the author’s permission can have adverse consequences, like imposing penalties on your website or even getting sued for violating copyright laws.

This article is based on an interview with Irina Lazorenko (Director of Content) and Maria Petrushevskaya (Inspectors’ Unit Head) from Depositphotos.

Where to find images for your website

Basically, you can get images for your website in three ways:

1)    Use your own pictures

2)    Find visuals on Google Images

3)    Purchase from photo stocks

Let’s consider the pros and cons of each one.

Pros and cons of using your own pictures:

Pros

  • Your photos will be unique and have the same style
  • You will get high-resolution photos of the best quality
  • You can make branded images that will help you establish the identity of your company. Besides you will be able to use these pics for any other materials to promote your business

Cons

  • It will cost you a fortune, as you need to hire a photographer or designer to create content for you
  • It requires some time
  • A photographer or designer can still sue you in case you don’t sign a contract

Pros and cons of using Google Images

Pros

  • You don’t need to pay for these images
  • They are easily accessible – you just need to enter the keywords in search

Cons

  • Low resolution and pure quality
  • These images have been used by thousands of users already and they’re not unique
  • Frequently, you download an image without the author’s permission which can result in a lawsuit
  • Finding a proper image takes too much time
  • Images on your website are more likely to have a different style
  • Many pictures come with watermarks

Pros and cons of using photo stocks

Pros

  • Images with royalty free license are really affordable
  • You can buy an image whenever you want
  • You will not get sued for violating copyright laws
  • You have access to millions of files, and you can choose those which have not been used by others yet
  • You can buy pictures from one photographer that will come in one style
  • If you buy images with a right managed (RM)* license, you can be sure that it will be used only by you

*Right managed allows for one-time use of the image as specified by the license.

Cons

  • You still need to pay for pictures
  • Images with royalty free license are more likely to have been already used on other websites
  • The choice of images is too big, it’s easy to get lost on photo stock unless you use tags to find a proper image

Each of these options has its advantages and disadvantages, and you need to consider them carefully before choosing the most suitable solution for you. For example, if you want to create your own website, you’d better use your own photos or photos from the selection of stock images. However, if you are looking for a picture for a blog post, you can download images from the web.

Licenses for images on photo stocks – how do they differ?

In the table above, we’ve mentioned that images on photo stocks may have two types of licenses: royalty free and right managed.  Here’s what Irina Lazorenko and Maria Petrushevskaya tell us about licenses:

“Licenses that are used by photo stocks are there for protection of the photographer’s work. That’s why every single item uploaded to the photo stock gets a license that predetermines the further usage of the image.

At Depositphotos, we use the royalty free license. This is a commonly accepted practice for microstocks while macrostocks generally use a right managed (RM) license.

RM license is more suitable for a one-time purchase, while royalty free license is perfect for multiple downloads. For example, images with a royalty free license are used when people need many images, not very specified, for a time-limited advertising campaign or for a blog post. Of course, images with a royalty free license are cheaper, but they are not exclusive.

The RM license presupposes that the usage of image is limited by some terms. That’s why a RM image can be sold for $500-$10,000. Also, the author can not upload this file to other micro or macrostocks. But when the license is over, the image is available for sale again.”

If you have no chance to check the license of the image, you can at least indicate the website or resource where you found the picture. Hence, you can prevent any lawsuits and the most severe punishment will be that the owner will ask you to remove the image from your website.

Why is downloading an image with a watermark not the best option?

A watermark is a pattern that appears on a work to identify the owner of the image. It is used to protect the rights of the owner, so if you use a photo with a watermark, you violate the laws. Irina Lazorenko and Maria Petrushevskaya share their experience:

“There are many stocks that sell images for free with no watermarks, so if someone does not want to pay money for photos, it’s better to use these stocks. If you download files with watermarks, the resolution is very low, and you can’t use this image as you want. Moreover, it may harm the reputation of your business.

Once we had a case when one of the companies put an image with a watermark on a billboard. It was like free advertising for us, but it was a failure for the company. It only showed that they tried to save money and decided not to buy images for promotional materials. No one will trust a business that uses images with watermarks as this shows that the company violates copyright laws and doesn’t care about the image of the brand.

Many companies try to save money on images. But those who really understand that the image will be an ad for their product tend to buy the photos. Besides, we offer absolutely different subscription plans – really cheap ones like $10 per 10 images and packages for professional designers. We also sell one-by-one photos, and it’s really affordable.

However, some still use photos with watermarks. But you never know when the owner comes and asks for compensation. Authors usually monitor their content. If they find their photos somewhere, they check where they were bought. And if they don’t get paid for the image, they go to photo banks, they ask to contact this client, and sometimes it goes as far as legal proceedings.”

Photo stocks with free images are quite a good option if you want to get high-quality images but have no money to pay for them. All images come under free-to-use license, which means that anyone can use them. Of course, most of these images have been used a thousands times already, and there is a risk that your competitors use the same pictures as well.

If you’re not sure that you can deal with choosing images on your own, you can always ask experts for help. Our partners from Weblium Studio will find and buy the most appropriate images for your website from Depositphotos following all your requirements. Also, currently they’re running a special offer for everyone who’s considering going online – a professional website at the price of hosting and domain name.

To buy an image or not is always up to you. However, there are no doubts that you do need to use licensed content on your website. Make wise choices and consider different options before you make a decision. Perhaps you can use several images on photo stocks and a couple of free pictures, but each of them should suit the style of your site and meet the targets of your business.

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