I want to tackle the issue of copyright in this blog post. I often see things going horribly wrong, and would like to assist in giving a clear picture of the facts.

There was a time when I felt very indifferent towards licensing. I just did not get the fuss over the rights of creators when I downloaded images or music, and I just did not care. Payback kicked in when I started to produce my own digital products and felt the pain every time someone did not care about me being remunerated for hours and hours of hard work I put in.

I believe that copyright, as dysfunctional and exploited as it is today, is still a hat tip towards the hard work and perseverance of an individual or group of people who made our lives easier, or brought us immense joy.

Claiming the moral highground

When it comes to copyright, there is a lot of ways to “stretch” your understanding of how copyright works. Terms like fair use, public domain, abandonware, orphaned works and much more, muddy the waters and can easily make us believe that we have a right to use.

Personally I prefer the moral high ground. I believe that a work is copyrighted unless proven otherwise. This is a hard stance but nevertheless one that will stand the test of time, and also the courts.

What is the cheapest way to acquire media?

Going without media on your website is really not an option, so you are stuck between a rock and a hard place here right? This is somewhat true. if you want media for your church you will at some time need to think about your strategy for acquiring media the proper way and that decision can cost you.

There is a plethora of sites that will offer you images that is totally free to use however you want and we will take a look at providing an authoritative list of said sites further down the line.

if your thirst for images is not quelled by the “free sites” then you will need to open an account with a Stock photography site and buy your images.

How free is free?

Can the free image sites be trusted you ask? I had a long and hard look the licenses and requirements of the sites and can confirm that free seems to be free. Here is the pitfalls.

No matter my view on free images or what clever blog post my nephew wrote on his blog, if you want to check if all is OK, look for and read the license agreement.

  1. Some of the sites that we had a look at requires attribution. We will cover attribution at some time, but the short of it is that you need to mention and link to the originator of the media.
  2. Model releases is not included with images. When you can identify a person, then you need a model release to ensure you will not be sued for using the image. Model releases is generally not provided on free sites. so you need to think twice about using images with identifiable people in them.
  3. Identifiable products and trademarks can land you in hot water. if you can identify a product or trademark, you might want to think twice about using the image.
  4. Free sites do not check free images for copyright violations. The person that uploaded the image, might have acquired the images illegally.

What do I need to know about media bought from a stock media site?

Media acquired from a stock media site, also comes with some strings attached. Here your discernment should be whether an image requires a standard or extended license.

As a very general rule of thumb, you will need a standard license if the product is being used without redistribution in volume. If you buy an image for your website. Then you have one image being shown on one medium. The same image that is being printed in a newspaper and being distributed, could require an extended license.

A Figure that is seen a lot on stock media sites, is 250 000. If you intend to redistribute lets say a image in a magazine, and the copies is less than 250 000 it is seen by some as falling under a standard license and not needing an extended license.

A word of caution, is that stock sites agreements are all so different, that you need to take some time and read through the licenses itself to find out what the rules of a specific site will be.

Audio licensing is completely different to image licensing. Some sites issue a specific license for audio content, and the rules are generally as strict as they come.

I will take a look at the issue of copyright further again in follow up posts, but the subject is so dreary, that I believe that i have lost all my readers at this stage, but thank those that held out and hope that your understanding of stock sites will broaden as we delve deeper into this subject.

  • Tyron Deakin

    Good read, thank you