We all know how important it is to use appealing visual images in your marketing to tell your story, gain readership and engage your audience. Herring always recommends the use of custom photography shot by a professional that is specific to your company that will help strengthen your brand. But there is not always the time or budget to hire and coordinate a custom photo shoot, so you may need to use stock photography. But are your photos legal to use?


Example of custom photography shot for a client by Michael Hart.

Why should you care, no one will see it, right?
Wrong. There are companies whose sole business is to search out stock images that are used illegally, through digital watermarks and EXIF data. If caught the penalty can range from a cease and desist to monetary damages to the extreme case of criminal charges.

Don't assume that because it’s on the internet, it’s OK to use iA basic overview of stock photography licenses.
Licensing can be categorized three ways; rights-managed, royalty-free and creative commons.

– Rights-Managed images are restricted and the cost associated with the use is based on the media, duration of use, region, industry, etc. These images are usually better quality, wider variety and the most current.

– Royalty-Free images are sold without the licensing restrictions and once the image is paid for it is yours to use as you wish in any media for any length of time. There are some royalty-free images that you can license an exclusive use period for an additional expense. This can reduce the chance that someone else will be using that same image.

– Creative Commons images is a relatively new type of stock image license born out of digital photography and widely available though and similar web sites.  The use licensing is determined by the individual photographer and can range from free to use with attribution, to non-commercial with attribution and no derivatives. This link can further explain the use of these images

Herring always works in the interest of the client and can negotiate the best price, navigate the licensing and make sure the images used on our clients marketing materials is legal and documented.

The information provided is not legal advice but is intended to provide a brief overview of some licensing issues involved in stock photography.

Credits: Michael Hart Photography Click here to see more of his work