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Can I use Free Stock Photos?

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Everyone loves free stuff. Small business owners, like you and me who are watching our budgets, especially love free stuff. So why pay for photos and images for your website and social media pages when you can use stock images from the many Free Stock Photo sites which have thousands of great images to choose from?

Yes, of course you can use those Free Stock Photos and Images, but as Albert Einstein said:

“Sometimes one pays most for the things one gets for nothing.”

I know what you’re thinking: here we go again, the lawyer putting a damper on things. The lawyer worrying me about my legal risks. Of course I am – that’s my job!

You see, before downloading and using those “Free Stock Photos”, it’s important you understand your legal rights and your legal risks. It’s important you understand the provider’s “terms of use” because the legal terms of a website are a binding contract.

Not all free image sites’ “terms of use” are created equal.

I know, I know, those legal terms are for lawyers. You really don’t want to read them and you really don’t understand them. Don’t fret, here’s some of the most important legal terms to understand before using a free image website:

Identifiable Items in Free Stock Photos

Depicted items in images such as identifiable people, logos, brands etc. typically require the consent of a third party or the license of these rights. Most Free Stock Photo Websites disclaim liability for any legal responsibility. So for example, the Free Stock Photo Website typically doesn’t check that all the content in the images are risk-free. In other words, if someone took a photo and didn’t get a photo release and uploaded the image to a Free Stock Photo Website; and then you used it for any reason, that person in the photo could sue you.

Content Rights

The Images on Free Stock Photo Websites come from Contributors who upload content to the website, allowing other Users to download and use. The Terms of Use of these Free Stock Photo Websites typically state that the Contributor warrants that they own all rights in the content.

When you use Free Stock Photos, you are using the content at your own legal risk. For example, most Free Stock Photo Websites don’t check that the content copyright is legally owned by the Contributor and don’t check that all images in the content are risk-free. The Website owner disclaims all responsibility and requires you to indemnify (i.e. hold harmless) the Website if a third party makes a claim arising out of your use.

So when you use a Free Stock Photo, you are trusting that the Contributor legally owned and had the right to license its free use to you. If you use an image, and the Contributor did not, you can be legally liable to the true owner.

So yes, you can use those Free Stock Photos. Just be aware that doing so is not legally risk-free.

As the User of a Free Stock Photo, you are completely responsible for any legal infringement of model rights, property rights, trademarks, and copyrights, to name a few.

Are you and/or your business Florida based? If so and you need help with Content Usage Processes and Policies? I’m here for you. Contact me here.

Want to take the first step to legally securing your success?  Get your Free Ebook today!

About Sagacity Legal:
Sagacity Legal is a Florida-based firm that works with service-based small business owners, who want to minimize their legal risk so they can focus on achieving their full potential.

This article and all content herein is solely intended for general information purposes and should not be construed as legal advice in any manner. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing, or communication via email or other means does not establish an attorney-client relationship. An attorney-client relationship is only formed when a written engagement agreement is executed. We disclaim all liability in respect to actions taken or not taken based on any or all the contents of this website to the fullest extent permitted by law. Do not act or refrain from acting upon this information without seeking professional legal counsel.

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