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Do Not Steal Royalty Free Images for Your Articles -

You've just written a great article, and you are now ready to submit it to your website. But wait! There's no photo. So you decide to look around the Internet, and you stumble upon a website that happens to have just the image you are looking for. So you casually take a screen shot of the image (or right click), and post it with your article. Unfortunately, what you just did may be illegal.

What is a Stock Image Site -

Stock image websites are how some photographers, illustrators; etc make their living. Instead of these artists selling their images at a gallery, they simply post their images online to a stock agency like iStockphoto.

These stock agencies then set a price for each image accepted, and pay a commission to the artist whenever that image sells. Unfortunately, some Internet users will take a screen shot of these images, and then use them for their own purposes. Perhaps these individuals simply do not realize that what they are doing is illegal. Or perhaps they just don't care. Either way, it's a bad idea.

An Explanation of Royalty Free -

First off, what is Royalty free? Royalty free does not mean that the images you see before you are "free". Royalty free is a type of license agreement (there are other types as well). You pay such and such amount of money in order to use these images a certain number of times. The price can range from a few hundred dollars to a few cents. It just depends on the type of license, the size of the file, the quality; etc.

Is it Copyrighted?

How can you tell if the image is copyrighted or not? One way is by virtue of a digital watermark. If you see a digital watermark on an image, then it is definitely copyrighted. And even if there isn't a digital watermark, you still need to check and see if it's okay to use the image. It may state somewhere on the website whether or not the image is copyrighted and or the type of license that must be purchased in order to use said image. If all else fails, email the website owner. And if that is unsuccessful, then find another image to use.

If you go ahead and use the image without paying for it or asking permission, then you could be sued for theft by the copyright holder or the agency they sell their images through. You may be thinking that it's nearly impossible for artists to find out whether or not their images have been stolen. And you're right; it's fairly difficult. Let's face it, the Internet is a big place. But it's not impossible. Thanks to websites like Tineye and others, tracking digital image use is becoming easier.

You Don't Want to Buy an Image -

Okay, so you don't want to buy the image. Then please go visit a site that has free images for you to download. Be sure and read the terms of use for these free photos, and use them as much as you want. Here's a link to Dreamstime that lists some of its photos for free.

By the way, don't make the mistake of thinking that all of the images at Dreamstime are free. The free images will not be watermarked, and they will have their own special section. The search bar will also specify between free and commercial images.

Remember Royalty free images are not free. And if you're not really sure if you can use an image, then email the author of the image. If that fails, then just don't use the image. Nobody likes a lawsuit (except the lawyers). ©JR All Rights Reserved

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