sheriff-cowboy-hat-1A Rabies Shot Won’t Save You
From Wild Images

Oh give me a home… where the images roam…

But be wary of those wild images because they could bite you!

Beware of Wild Images!

Social media sites today have a tendency to erroneously contribute to the belief that everything on the web is permitted to be shared with everybody and by everybody in any means we desire. FALSE

In “Picking Pretty Pictures Could Send You To Jail“, I talked about image copyright and licensing mostly from a blogging perspective, but social media plays a HUGE role in our businesses today and goes well beyond the blog!

Here’s a two-part tip to help you know what to do about wild images and to avoid your images roaming a little too freely!

If You Made The Image

If you make images for use on social sites or your blog, and you own these images, be sure to put your name, URL or a watermark on these images. Never assume that text will stay WITH an image as it circulates the web.

Facebook Home’s new cover flow makes this need increasingly apparent. Most text that is in the original share is not accessible at all in the re-share of an image within cover flow.

Always try to work with the assumption that your image WILL get orphaned from it’s text and that someone will be dependent on the image itself to figure out who you are.

If Your Considering Sharing The Image

If you are using images in a part of your marketing that is commercial (your blog or your Facebook page), be wary of uploading images that have no source URL or watermark. While even those do not give you the legal right to upload an image someone else created, most of the time giving credit to the artist is what is needed. (Many comic strip graphics however, are avidly enforced and can not be used on your blog or other commercial platforms.)

You may have a “casual” fan page that you do not think of as commercial. Yet, if it is affiliate with your business in any way, or with any attempt to monetize it, the law may not agree with you on that.

There is no guarantee that you are out of legal trouble if you reshare a licensed image that someone has uploaded and put into the wild illegally. One single image from Getty Images for example, reshared, could cost you as much as $116,000 for the use without license penalties by law.

Ways To End Up In Trouble With The Sheriff

Any time you grab an image from a site like or or you put yourself in danger of the wicked sting of licensing laws.

Even re-sharing these items can potentially get you in trouble although the odds are lower than if you yourself uploaded or re-uploaded the image.

An image, such a as comic strip, which carries correct copyright and use licenses often may not be shared on a commercial platform (your blog or your fan page) by you even if you fully cite the source. Even a link AND the images watermark are not going to protect you if that image was not clear to be re-distributed commercially.

Always remember… an artist owes you nothing. Your sharing there item may actually hurt them in some cases. They do not owe you gratitude for sharing their image, even correctly cited, unless it was licensed for that.

Some Tips

If your profile is used strictly non commercial then there are fewer problems and concerns (but still some) than any platform you use related to your blogging & business. Your pinterest account, facebook page, google+ pages … and even your profiles on those accounts if you use them at all in any sense that might be deemed commercial under licensing agreements.

Looking for a list of sources of free and paid images? Check out Jim Lander’s “How To Find Free Images For Your WordPress Blog“. Keep in mind that not all free images may be used commercially and that each royalty free site has it’s own license structure.

Most of my images are either (a) screenshots I have personally taken and modified or (b) images purchased from, such as the one above, which is my favorite source of royalty frees or occasionally (c) from using the commercial-allowed filter on their site.