How to Avoid Getting In Legal Trouble over Your Web Photos


You may know someone who has had trouble from photos that they used either on their website or their print materials like brochures, flyers and so on. I recently learned that someone I know was taken to court for using some of the photos he took at the school on their prospectus and a parent wasn’t amused. One thing led to another and before long he was in court staving off a civil suit. But what can you do to prevent this from happening to you?

1. Use public domain images

The cheapest solution for getting a few photos to use may be to consider simply getting a few public domain photos. However please note that simply because a photo doesn’t have a watermark or a copyright mark doesn’t make it public domain. Consequently photos taken by other people on social media sites also aren’t in the public domain.

To some public domain photos you can use some free public domain websites by simply googling this. The only challenge you might find with this though is finding just the right photo to use with your design piece.

2. Get consent from people to be used in the photographs

The best photos for use in your marketing are however going to be real live photos of your organization or events. However before you use these photos you may wish to get consent from the people in the photos just to avoid any bad reactions when you finally use them in your bill board. As you will discover when you ask most people are happy to have their photos used in most design pieces as long as the the photo flatters them and makes them look good.

3. Take strategic photos

Another option you may choose is to take photos but in a clever way as to ensure that one can be identified. this can be achieved by:

  • Having the photo taken from far – consequently the final images to be used won’t obviously be high resolution / raw images that be zoomed in, instead it would a compressed version of the photo.
  • Specific details are blurred out from the photo e.g. faces & license plates, this can be done where the camera lenses only focus on the close up object and the background objects are all blurred out. Also it can be after the photo is taken and you use photo editing software to tastefully blur out specific areas.
  • A third option is to have the photo taken at an angle o the object for instance from the back, at an angle to your face, capturing the ear and cheek as the person looks out into the crowd who are blurred because they are out in the distance.

4. Buy premium stock photos

Finally if you aren’t really keen on using live photos and the public domain photos arent that pleasing to your eye (which most are) then you may opt to purchase some premium stock photos. you can easily find such sites online for instance istockphotos and others. The only challenge at the moment is probably finding highly relevant photos that your live photos would easily provide.