At this day and age, you might think using other people’s photos is totally fine. If you aren’t cautious, you could end up violating the Copyright Act.
Defining the Copyright Act.
If you look into the Copyright Act, it is enacted to protect photographic works. The copyright.gov specifies that whether a photo is captured by a camera, a digital file, or a film, these photos are still covered by the said act. It also includes particular images such as black and white photos, color photos, and etc.
What does this imply?
- When you search online for photos, the search engines, like Google, are just suggesting relevant images basing from your query. This does NOT automatically mean that you have the right to use the photo according to your own accord. Without permission from the owner, you CANNOT use the photo especially if it is mentioned that is not for commercial purposes.
- It could cost you money. Sadly, many people think that an image on Google is public property. You cannot use it or put it on your own site. The United States Copyright Office have the Copyright Act and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to protect online works.
- Aside from the Copyright Act, there is also what you call the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The DMCA, started in 1998, and it clearly states that the Internet Service Provider (ISP) is not accountable for copyright infringement.
- It is the user that is responsible for the unauthorized use of digital media files. The ISP has the power to remove materials from a user’s website if they verify a breach of the Copyright Act. The DMCA also mentions paying fees when you infringe someone else’s work.
- The section 1202 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act states could ask a $2,500 to $25,000 fee if proven that you violated it. Furthermore, under section 1204, penalties could go up to $500,000 fee for a first offense. The fee may vary depending if there are subsequent breaches. More info about DMCA are posted here: https://www.copyright.gov/legislation/dmca.pdf
When you use photos on Google.
- You can’t just get photos on Google and use it the way you want it. The photo you just copied could be someone else’s property. It is best to always ask the owner first. Inform the person that you wish to use a photo because permission is not always implicit. Plus, you need to know the proper attribution of citing the owner when you are given the permission.
- Remember that the photo you got from Google is still protected by the law. Like in any other situation, you can get into some serious trouble if you are using something that is NOT LAWFULLY YOURS. It could harm your personal website or blog, and it could also mean paying a huge fine.
Related: Where to Sell Your Photos Online?
- Other people choose to sell their photos online. That’s why you are not permitted to use it because these people have chosen to upload their photos in exchange of a fee.
- However, for people on a budget, you don’t have to rely on these paid photos. There are websites that provide free stock photos. You can even the free photos for both commercial and personal use.