Why you should be careful when choosing images to use on your blog

4th June 2015

Why you should be careful when choosing images to use on your blog

Images and photographs have become such an important aspect of blogging. Images enhance our posts and make them more aesthetically pleasing.

However, recently I have seen blogs that are using images that the blogger clearly does not have permission to use (particularly celebrity images), but I’m pretty sure that said blogger doesn’t realised that this is a problem.

Yes, it is a problem. If you don’t have permission to use an image on your blog that doesn’t belong to you then you may get in trouble. And I mean legal trouble!

It’s so easy to go on to Google Image search and look for the image you want to use in your blog post. You might even think linking back to the source will back you up, but it won’t. If the owner has copyrighted the image then a link back does not make things okay.

And then there is the issue that if you use someone’s image and the original owner does not like what you have used the image for (e.g. Using the image in an offensive post), they will not be happy and legal action may be taken.

Same goes for fonts too. Everyone loves Dafont for finding great fonts, but did you know that some of these fonts are personal use only? I.e. If you’re are using them on your blog and your blog makes any money then you may be penalised.

Back in ye olden days, when Piczo was king and nobody blogged for money, we all used celebrity images and manipulated them in Photoshop to create “blends”. We’d then use them as a part of our website/blog layouts and be none the wiser of the trouble we might get into.

I believe that it was an article that Georgie wrote that changed my mind. She talked about how you shouldn’t use celebrity images in this way. Admittedly, I carried on for a while after reading this article. I couldn’t get enough of my Heath Ledger layouts! But from that moment on I always had the thought in the back of my head of “What if I get caught?”. I did eventually change my ways.

And please don’t be tempted to think that it won’t happen to you because your blog is small or what not. Tonnes of bloggers, regardless of their blog size, have got in trouble for this. A quick Google search will throw up a load of examples when this has happened to bloggers.

What images can you use?

The safest option is to use your own images. Use your own photographs that you have taken, or make some graphics in Photoshop.

You may think that it doesn’t looks as good as someone else’s photography, but surely you’d rather have a poor quality phone picture on your blog than lawyers to deal with.

There are also websites that offer stock images. JennyPurr wrote a great post on where to find stock images, whether you choose to use the images available for free or pay a premium.

In addition, you can use Creative Commons to search for royalty free images. Even then I’d still recommend crediting with a link back saying “Image from here.” or something similar. Again, you just want to be careful that the owner doesn’t change their mind about the copyright of that image, or you do anything to upset them.

And if you are worried about which fonts you use, ensure that when you are searching for fonts of Dafont you search for images that are 100% free.

Dafont 100% free fonts

The aesthetics and appearance of your blog are not worth getting sued over.

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  1. This post topic is a classic! I remember harping on about the celebrity images and I may have sounded pretty harsh or know-it-all in my article but I did take it very seriously. I think when we are young and naive we don’t think much of it but when you work in the industry and see it happen, it can change your mind.

    I am still guilty of forgetting to credit when I use those little thumbnail images in my blog but I do try to use my own images here and there. I think that the possibility of getting in trouble was the reason I used my own personal photos in my layouts in the first place. I thought it seemed kind of conceited at first haha.

    I know a photographer who shoots concerts and recently sued the guys from Red Jumpsuit Apparatus because they posted his photo on Facebook without credit and even deliberately cropped or obscured the copyright watermark. The guys from the band were real jerks about it and sent some pretty nasty comments and messages with a huge attitude.

    I am sure you and I as photographers ourselves would hate for people to steal our images so it is only right that we treat other people’s photos with respect. 🙂

    • Holly

      Definitely! I learnt a lot about image copyright in my last job. Also, you realise just how irritating it is when someone else steals and uses your images without permission.

      Removing the watermark is just the worst! It’s just shows how ignorant people can be.

  2. Michelle

    I just use my own photos that I take, simple as that. I don’t want to deal with something like that and I make sure on my Instagram to give credit as much as I can to the people that made the image (if I can find them) and I always ask and credit the people for my layout images. I don’t want to get into any legal trouble, because honestly? I have no money and I don’t like getting in trouble for something that can be avoided. That’s just my thoughts.

    • Holly

      Having dealt with lawyers I know how horrible the legal world can be (and I was on the good guys side!). I would never want to put myself in that situation, especially over something as petty as a picture.

  3. Great topic, is so complicated and so many people are doing this without wanting to break the law. I took some photos from the internet, but only for a couple of images and I’m changing them soon.

    • Holly

      I think the biggest issue is that people are not well informed and don’t know that what they are doing is illegal. We just need to get the word out there to protect these bloggers.

  4. Awesome posts Holly!
    I usually try to look for images on the web for my blog…. but then I always wonder if i should be using them or not!

    Fonts and stock images are yet another story!

    This post was really informative and as Georgie said, a classic!

    • Holly

      Glad you liked it. It is difficult to know when you can and can’t use an image, which is why I try to stick to my own photography as much as possible.

  5. This is a great post! I stopped using celebrity images a long time ago for this reason, though I haven’t paid particular attention to my fonts when I really should have done. I find it difficult to get images when I’m talking about a game, as I can’t take a picture of my TV screen, so I will usually just use the front cover. It doesn’t make for an interesting picture, but it’s safe!

    • Holly

      I only recently started paying attentions to the fonts I use. Luckily there are a lot of great fonts that are 100% free.

  6. Chynna

    I used to use images without permission when I first started blogging because I didn’t know there were any rules. It wasn’t until I started writing for an online magazine that I was told about copyright and creative commons, etc. Now I use my own photos, or go to photopin.com where I know I can find pictures I can use with permission.

    Ah, Piczo were the good ol’ days. I used to be obsessed with making David Tennant layouts, personally.

    This is an awesome post, though. Really informative 🙂

  7. Amy

    Great post – I always worry what to do image-wise, which is why I avoid images unless they’re photographs (which can be really hard to do all the time, especially for non-life related blog entries). I drew the text on my layout by hand to avoid any copyright issues, as well. It’s way better to be safe than sorry.

    I used to be a culprit of making celebrity layouts. When I was on Piczo my website was nothing but stolen celebrity images, covered with stolen brushes and stolen fonts. And they didn’t even look good either, just really quick bits I slapped together on Photoshop. Those were definitely not the days!

    • Holly

      Ah, I wish I had the talent to draw my own layout! Instead I just have to do basic stuff with text.

      My old Piczo layouts were awful, but I use to think they were amazing, haha!