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Copyright free images - or are they? UK relevant info

Updated on April 29, 2013

First The Warning

I am not a copyright lawyer. The information provided here is the result of much research and the successful reclamation of monies owed to me for infringement of my copyright. Most sites like Hubpages have lots of advice from people that have used images without consent but very little from the other side, the photographer, who is often seen as the bad person for expecting to be paid for his or her work.

I accept no responsibility for any inaccuracies in this page and I cannot stress enough that if you find yourself on the wrong end of a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) Complaint you really should seek legal advice at the earliest opportunity.

What I will try to do here is to help you to avoid ending up in that situation.

Is that image I have seen on the web copyright protected?

In short the answer is YES. The moment a photographer presses the shutter release and creates an image they own the copyright. They can do with the copyright whatever they want. What you can do with the image is up to them.

Common Myths:

Its on the internet so I'm free to use it: Wrong, any image on the web is the copyright of the person that took it.

Its Public Domain: Many people believe that something being in the public domain makes it public domain they are two different things. The image may be public domain if the image is over 70 years old if its not then it is most likely not not. Just because its out in the public domain ie on many sites on the internet doesn't make it a public domain image. Check here for the full meaning of public domain

It Doesn't matter they can't find me: You would be surprised how easy it is to find you. You have a hub you have a paypal account associated to it to collect your earnings, the paypal account gets paid into your bank, they have your address, didn't take long did it?

I got the image from a stock website: Have a look here look at the section entitled Information on rights.they exclude almost every use of the image including the uses they list in the you may use the image to section. They tell you you can use the image in advertising materials but then say they dont include a model release or can't be sure the model release is valid. If the image has an identifiable person in it you should have a model release if you use the image in a way that may indicate that the person is promoting the product. Expect the person's solicitor to contact you if the person doesn't like the product or service you have associated them with. Check the section entitled important the tell you here you are solely responsible for the use of the images and should confirm usage with the photographer before you use it. You also agree to indemnify the site against misuse of the images so now you have to pay the photographer and the sites legal fees. Not such a cheap image now is it?

So how do I get images I can use

you can use the stock sites but always take the time to contact the photographer before you use the image. Build a relationship with a photographer or photographers that are happy to provide images for you in exchange for a link to their website. Not all photographers will do this but some will, usually up and coming photographers, there's no point asking David Bailey for one of his images in return for a link he doesn't need the publicity. You do your research to get the information for the text of your hub so why not for the images too. If you build a relationship with several photographers they will probably all visit your hub pages to see what images you are using so you may increase your own traffic by doing this. Some photographers that have never had an image published before will be pleased as punch and will send all their friends to your hub page to she the image so thats even more traffic to your site

You can always take them yourself but that can take a lot of learning and if your thing is writing not photography you may find it difficult, My thing is photography not writing, this was hard work for me.

an image provided with the photographers consent in exchange for a link to his website. This image is ©Howzat Photography
an image provided with the photographers consent in exchange for a link to his website. This image is ©Howzat Photography | Source

In my article originally I placed an image with a watermark in it. This is apparently against Hubpages rules so I now post one with no watermark, this will not help in your quest to obtain images as the watermark helps the photographer protect their work

End Note

I hope you have found this article useful. if you want more information please let me know, I will either amend this article or create another. This is my first hub page so please be gentle when pointing out all he things I have done wrong. Above all just remember the photographer is just trying to make a living just the same as you and if he deprived you of some income you would be as annoyed as he is


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    • HowzatPhotography profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Newport Pagnell

      Gavin, you are correct it would take legal intervention to get the information from paypal and from Hubpages. As a former PI you will also be aware of just how big an online footprint most people have. How people unwittingly leave little bits of information in multiple places. The last person to borrow one of my images took me about 15 minutes to find out their home address. I didnt make use of that info in any way other than to email it to the person to highlight the fact that thinking I couldn't find them would be silly. I'm not really trying to scare people I just want people to understand how much trouble they can get themselves in and some companies that track down copyright infringers are down right nasty and no one wants that to happen to anyone

    • profile image

      Gavin, former PI 

      7 years ago

      I hate to rain on the love fest going on in this comment thread, but I must take issue with one thing. You wrote,

      "It Doesn't matter they can't find me: You would be surprised how easy it is to find you. You have a hub you have a paypal account associated to it to collect your earnings, the paypal account gets paid into your bank, they have your address, didn't take long did it?"

      There's no way in Hades that Hubpages is going to violate its users' privacy and divulge their Paypal acct. info. If for some reason you did manage to find a user's Paypal acct. through other means, there's no way in Hades that Paypal would give you their contact and bank account info. You're going to need some heavy-duty legal ammunition to wrest that information out of Hubpages and Paypal. Or you're going to have to hire a hacker.

      I know your intention is to scare people off of stealing photos, so perhaps your exaggeration is warranted. But as former PI I feel it is my duty to inform people that an independent photographer like you can't really find a person's identity this way. There are other much easier ways of finding out who people are online (including hacking), but I won't divulge them since they are my trade secrets, and besides, I don't want thieves to figure out how to outsmart me.

    • profile image


      7 years ago from USA Pacific Northwest

      Copyright also goes into effect with articles posted on the 'net.

      Its also fairly common for photos to be picked up and posted to myriad websites without attribution.

      A couple of years ago I ran across a photo I found intriguing and it was something I wanted to explore in acrylic paint. I changed a lot of things including the light. (In keeping with the article I'm responding to) was it changed enough to claim it as my own? Possibly, but the point of it was to explore and learn. Such was personal (and fair) use-nothing commercial.

      Aside; this new computer has just become operational and I've got to get an EIDE hard drive to SATA connector to be able to read the hard drive the photo source data is on. End aside.

      The comment of possibly being contacted by the photographer's solicitor (lawyer) is apt. Here's the thing; I ran across the original photo as well as who the photographer was; IIRC, he's a Russian gentleman who lives in Australia and I'm in the US. He sells copies of his photos to finance world travel to be able to take new photos. Once I can access that hard drive I'll be writing him and sending him a link to the full painting file which will be stored on a file hosting site. He'll be able to do with that image file as he pleases. I make no ownership claim. If he chooses to print and sell copies of the painting, which was a study, he's welcome to do so.

      A couple of years before that I came across another interesting photo. This one had the source data. I contacted the photographer for permission. It was granted with the understanding I couldn't make copies of the resulting painting and sell them. When I finished the painting I offered to send him the image file, but he didn't want it. Such was his decision to make.

      The point is, as 'howzat photography' stated-the photographer, in all cases, retains ownership.

    • HowzatPhotography profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Newport Pagnell

      Thank you all for the nice comments. In terms of places I would recommend you use let me look Into that it's not something I normally do as if I want an image I tend to take it.

      In relation to what is a fair fee that's a real toughie I'm planning a hub on why photographers get so upset at you using their image so that may help people understand things. If I find any good links I will do a hub on what sites to use and what small print to watch out for

    • dwachira profile image

      [ Danson Wachira ] 

      7 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      I followed one of your threads in the forum about one of your image being used inappropriately and i liked all the contribution there besides the happy ending. This article contain useful information and i do appreciate you sharing this information with other hubbers. Thanks, Voted up and useful.

    • bankscottage profile image

      Mark Shulkosky 

      7 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Welcome to HubPages. The use of photos is a popular topic here. Thanks for your perspective from the other side.

      Voted up, useful and shared.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Very useful and congratulations for your first hub!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Very useful and informative hub. Thanks for taking the time to write it and share.

    • WriteAngled profile image


      7 years ago from Abertawe, Cymru

      Can you recommend some sites where it is possible to obtain photographs for free use, with credit back to the photographer? I am aware of Wiki Commons and Morguefile (which does not even require credit), but obviously the more the merrier!

      Also, for photographs by people other than David Bailey, who wish to be paid for use of their images, what sort of fee scale would you consider reasonable, especially for authors publishing a small blog or on a site like this one, where earnings are apt to be minimal?

    • Helena Ricketts profile image

      Helena Ricketts 

      7 years ago from Indiana

      Very good information that we can all use! Thank you for sharing.


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