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Four Rules for Using Stock Photos

Michigan Production



In this day and age with the use of the Internet, we basically have the whole world at our fingertips. But that doesn’t mean all of the content you find is up for grabs to use as you please. When working at a project for yourself or work, it is important to know how to use stock graphics legally.

Here are four basic rules for using stock photos:

  1. Don’t use photos or graphics with watermarks. A watermark is a logo found somewhere on the image or graphic. Watermarks can sometimes be small and hard to see, or they can overlay the whole image.
  2. Don’t use photos or graphics that you did not get the rights to use. From the time that content is created, it is copyrighted. Even though you can download or copy most images instantly doesn’t mean you should.
  3.  Give credit where credit is due.  Many content creators make their designs or images available for free but require you to give them attribution (usually by listing their name or putting a link to their website).
  4. Know the difference between commercial and personal use. Many times there are different rules that apply for commercial or personal use. Commercial use is to make a profit, whereas personal use is for your own work (for example, creating an event invitation for a birthday party). You can find more information on personal use and commercial use here: http://www.fastmediamagazine.com/blog/2010/08/02/what-constitutes-personal-use-of-an-image/

Stock graphics fall into one of two categories: royalty-free and rights-managed. For royalty-free, you have a lot more freedom with you use the graphic. You have the option to use it how you would like, for how long you would like. However, royalty-free does not always mean cost-free. Many times you still need to purchase a licensing agreement. Rights-managed graphics often have less creative flexibility because of restrictions on how you can use it, when you can use it, etc.

This all might seem a little intimidating, but as long as you do a little research on how your image can be used and what license you need, using stock images can enhance your own work immensely. If you do not have a photo or graphic available to you that best represents what you are trying to make, using stock graphics can be a great option.

That being said, sometimes it is worth it to make your own graphics! If you have a little extra time to work on your project, maybe you can create your own design or take your own photo. That way you won’t have to worry whether you have the rights to use it.

Check out more blogs that discuss design, video production, marketing and more at www.michigancreative.com.