Companies planning a new website must ensure they have the legal right to use any images they include, our senior partner has warned.
Graham Davies said thanks to the Internet, it was all too easy to find suitable images online but companies needed to take a cautious approach.
“Running an internet search to find the images you need is all well and good, but you need to be sure who owns the rights to them. Don’t just assume that because the image isn’t necessarily attributed to anyone it’s safe to use it – many of the larger photo agencies have powerful software which constantly sweeps the Internet to check if anyone is using their images without permission.
“And if you do get found out, you can expect a call from the agency involved who will track you down in order to demand you pay up for the breach of copyright, which they are perfectly entitled to do.”
Graham said any company considering a new website should make sure they only used images for which they had the legal owner’s permission.
“So there are several options open to you if you want to ensure you don’t get caught out. You could take the photos yourself, or ask one of your staff to do it if they’re keen on photography, or you could hire a professional photographer.
“If you do bring in an expert though, make sure you buy not only the images but their copyright too, or you may find you’re not allowed to automatically use the images anywhere else such as on brochures or other printed marketing material.
“Another suggestion is to source the images from a stock photo agency where you can pay to use them for commercial reasons. You will find some stock photo agencies also give you the option to control who else can use the images you choose and that they will track them for you to ensure no-one uses them without permission.
“This will cost more, but it will mean you can ensure your company’s website images are unique to you and not used all over the Internet by your competitors.”