Legal Issues Regarding Images

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Legal Issues Regarding Images


Many people don’t realize the legal responsibilities of owning a website and putting images on the site. Yet you would presume all lawyers would!   Yet many people think that if you find an image on Google, and it doesn’t say its copyrighted, then its not.   Usually that’s not the case, and there probably is some kind of copyright on it.   SO its better to be safe and either take your own images, hire a professional or buy your images online like most people.



This is an image I boguht at Canstock Photo – ; This is one of many sites that sell images that range in price from like $3-50 plus.  Usually you can buy the smaller size image, depending on what your using it for but the bottom line is that your covering yourself and only using images that you know for sure are legal to use.

Images can improve a site and are easily available with Google’s image search or the many online image libraries and banks, but using an image without consent is infringement of copyright and the fines can be big.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that your site is not important and really small, so it will go unnoticed. No way! Robots and spiders crawl the web looking for copyrighted images and, just like the music industry when it comes to music piracy, the image owners are very litigious, meaning they want to sue you!

So if you have a lawyer site that you put an image that you “Found” on the Internet, you might get a letter or call about it at some point. 


#1- Mainly do not take photos from other sites and you will not have problems. Do NOT Right click on an image and save it. Do not hotlink to photos on other sites either. Hotlinking means using the photo direct from another person’s serve.  So sometimes you can just right click and copy the image, then paste it into your post. It looks like its on your site, but its not and your going to possibly have a problem.

#2- If someone sends you, your web host, or your ISP (Internet Service Provider) a letter and says you are using his work, unless you have solid proof that the photos are your own property, just apologize and remove the photos.   Most of the time its an honest mistake and sometimes you might have an image on your site because someone you hired put it on there, or it was included with your new site.


There are many free or very cheap ways to get images for your website. For starters, you can just take photos with your smartphone of your city skyline, buildings, your office, and other misc. things that can be used within your site for free.   If you take pictures of other people just make sure you get their written consent with a model release form or similar.

There are copyright-free resources such as Wikimedia Commons or Dover Press which provide images that are free to reproduce. Try the advanced search on Flickr to find Creative Commons images for your website.

#4- Best place to buy your ImagesCan Stock Photo is a huge and very reasonably priced image library.  They have different sizes of the images and every kind if image you can think of. They also have a subscription model, where you can sign up for one week and download up to 10 images a day.  So 70 images in one week should be enough for awhile!  This is a great deal and the best way to get high quality legal images.

Read more Lawyer web design and Internet marketing tips at our Legal Search Marketing Blog.


The concept of fair use is one of the most contentious issues on image use in the media. The fair use provisions of U.S. copyright law allow use of copyrighted materials on a limited basis for specific purposes without the permission of the copyright holder. It is in this type of situation that the four factor test of fair use law come to play. Although it is necessary to weigh all four factors to decide whether a fair use exemption seems to apply to a proposed reuse, courts often tend to take a holistic approach in the interpretation of the law.

Most Judges do not simply add up a positive or negative for each factor of the four factors, they tended to focus on two questions that collapse the four factors. They want to know if the use transform the material, by using it for a different purpose? They also want to know if the amount taken appropriate to the new purpose?

There are 3 main considerations that are advisable for defending a fair use case for an image online:
• Use lower resolution or thumbnail versions where possible;
• Place the image in a new context or use it for a new purpose; and
• Use only the parts of the image needed for the purpose

The potential market beyond direct substitution is one of the issues courts tend to consider also. There have been cases in which courts have recognize that certain kinds of market harm do not negate fair use. A common example of this case is the case of negative review of a parody having tremendous impairment impart on the market of the original work. It is well known that copyright considerations may not really shield a work against adverse criticism.

Another major subject of discussion is the difference between plagiarism and copyright infringement. Plagiarism is using someone’s words, ideas, images, etc. without acknowledgment. As a result, plagiarism is a matter of professional ethics. Copyright on the other hand is a matter of law, and protects exact expression, not ideas. For instance, giving the name of the photographer of an image or author may help, but it is does not automatically make a use fair. Attribution prevents accusations of plagiarism, however, it does not prevent infringement of copyright.



Copyright infringement is the use of works protected by copyright law without permission, infringing certain exclusive rights granted to the copyright holder, such as the right to reproduce, distribute, display or perform the protected work, or to make derivative works. The copyright holder is typically the work’s creator, or a publisher or other business to whom copyright has been assigned. Copyright holders routinely invoke legal and technological measures to prevent and penalize copyright infringement.

Read more at Wikipedia…..

Copyright Concerns When Creating a Website

From Bitlaw legal site on copyright concerns with images…..

Obtaining images for a web page. One of the chief attractions of the World Wide Web is the ability to use graphics to convey information to users. A sophisticated and subtle graphical presentation is the hallmark of some of the Web’s most popular sites. The following “rules of thumb” are meant to guide a web page creator when selecting images for incorporation into a page.

  • Creating original images from drawing and painting programs: The best way to obtain images is to create them in a drawing or other image creation program. In doing so, however, it is best to start from scratch rather than from someone else’s creation. Even if an image is significantly altered, the new image may infringe upon the copyright in the first image by being a “derivative work.”

    • Taking images from third-parties: The simple rule is, “Don’t steal someone else’s images.” The moment an original image (or string of text) is fixed on a hard drive for the first time, it is protected by copyright. Any unauthorized copying of a protected image is an infringement of the creator’s copyright, unless the use falls within one of the very limited exceptions to the copyright law, such as “fair use.” In most cases, it is unlikely that the incorporation of an image into a commercial web-site would be considered a fair use.

Read more on Copyright concerns when creating a website

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