Are You Legal with the Images On Your Website?

by Joanna Pineda Posted on February 28, 2014

Chained Camera A couple of months ago, we got a call from a client. Getty Images notified them to say that one of Getty’s images was being used on the website and they didn’t have record of the purchase. The website in question was built about 13 years ago and we had little documentation about the images used on the site. Neither my team nor the client knew where the image came from. We ended up paying the bill, which was close to $1,000 because the image was a rights managed image.

Rights Managed (RM) refers to a licensing system usually used in photography where the customer must pay for each use or for each year. In the case of the client website above, the invoice was for multiple years of RM, which is why the bill was so high for a tiny, fairly generic image. Ouch.

In the last decade of managing websites, Matrix Group has developed policies and procedures for using, purchasing and documenting images. Here are some of our rules:

Since we design websites, email newsletter and apps all day long, we need access to high quality images. I asked my team for their favorites and this is what I got:

For paid images, we like:

For free photos, we like:

Of course, nothing beats images you take yourselves and that you have full rights to use everywhere. Matrix Group is in the midst of a redesign of our own website and Creative Director Alex Pineda has banned the use of stock photos.

Anyway, don’t get caught with an invoice the way we did. Have a policy for image use, purchase and documentation. And always ask staff where they got the images for the website, brochure, presentation or email.

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