Stealing photographs happens all day, every day, and most people don't even realize that they are doing it.
See a photo of a celebrity on another website and share it on your blog? Chances are you've violated the copyright on that photograph.
Just because an image is publicly available on the web doesn't mean that you can use it. If you haven't taken the photo, licensed the photo, or made sure the photo has been made available for your use under a creative commons license (which many people do on sites like Flickr), you can't use it. It's really that simple. If you use a photograph that you don't have rights to, you could be asked to take the offending photograph down, or even be responsible for paying damages to the owner. Admittedly, sometimes the risk of these things happening is low, since the originator may be happy to have the content shared and interest drummed up in their project, cause, or business. If they wanted it shared legally, though, they could have changed their copyright terms.
Today, sharing publicly available images LEGALLY and for FREE just became much easier. Getty Images, the world's largest photo agency, announced that they are lifting the copyright on 35 million photographs in their catalogue. In an attempt to thwart the right-click-and-save-as version of sharing images illegally and without attribution, they've created an embed viewer (similar to how YouTube allows you to embed videos in your posts) for photographs.
When used, an image will look like this:
This way, credit is automatically given back to Getty Images and the photographer who made the photograph.
Ready to start sourcing Getty Images for your blogs? Search here.
Copyright symbol by David Wees.