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Copyright... It's not sexy but it also applies to images

Image represent the copyright and Image Use Rights
Copyright and Image Use Rights

Navigating the Maze of Image Use Rights and Copyright

In today's digital age, where images travel at breakneck speed across the web, it is essential to understand the complexities of image rights and copyright. Whether you're a blogger, content creator, or just a social media user, knowing your rights and responsibilities when using images is crucial to avoiding legal trouble and respecting the work of creators. In this article, we will explore the ins and outs of these often complex questions.

What is copyright?

Copyright is a legal protection granted to creators of original works, including images, once they are fixed in a tangible medium, such as a printed or digital photograph. This protection grants the author the exclusive right to reproduce, distribute, display and modify his work. This means that, unless expressly authorized, any use of this work by a third party requires the consent of the author.

Types of image use licenses

Creators can choose to distribute their images with different types of licenses that determine how their works can be used. Here are some of the most common licenses:

1. All rights reserved: This means that the author retains all rights to his work and any use, unless explicitly authorized, is prohibited.

2. Creative Commons: These licenses provide a range of options for creators to define the terms of use of their works. For example, a Creative Commons license may permit use of an image for non-commercial purposes only, or require attribution from the author.

3. Commercial Licenses: Some creators offer specific licenses for commercial use, which allows businesses and professionals to use their images for a fee.

Legal use of images

To legally use an image, you must obtain permission from the author or use images that are explicitly royalty-free or licensed under Creative Commons with terms of use that suit your project. Here are some ways to find images you can use legally:

1. Free Image Databases: Sites like Unsplash, Pixabay, and Pexels offer thousands of high-resolution images licensed under a Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license, meaning you can use them for free for personal use and commercial without attribution required.

2. Paid Image Libraries: Platforms like Shutterstock, Adobe Stock, and Getty Images offer high-quality commercially licensed images for a fee.

3. Creating your own images: The best way to ensure that you are not infringing copyright is to create your own images or use professional photographers to produce images specific to your needs.

For artistic inspiration

Since it is not permitted to reproduce a photo or other artistic work in its entirety without the rights, some painters have difficulty finding inspiration. Here are some possible solutions:

1. Personal Photography: Nowadays everyone has a cellular device that allows them to take photos. Drag it everywhere and don't hesitate to play the ''Kid Kodak''. These images are yours!

2. Photo montage: A little DIY by recovering the most relevant parts of your photographs: the sunset in one, the covered bridge in the other, the tree, etc...

3. Using AI: While we don't recommend using AI for commercial purposes (there are graphic designers for that), it can serve as a muse for the artist in need of inspiration. Be careful, however, not to reproduce the artistic style of another artist.

Avoid legal problems

Using an image without proper permission can result in serious legal consequences, including significant fines. To avoid legal problems, follow these simple tips:

1. Read the license terms: Make sure you understand the terms of use of any image you download or use.

2. Properly attribute the author: If attribution is required by the license, be sure to properly credit the author of the image.

3. Obtain written permission: If you are unsure about the use of an image, contact the author directly to obtain written permission.

4. Use royalty-free images: Use free or paid image databases that offer appropriately licensed images for your use.


Navigating the maze of image usage rights and copyright can seem daunting, but with a clear understanding of the basics and available resources, it is possible to respect creators' rights while using images legally and ethics. As content creators, it is our responsibility to respect the work of others and contribute to an online culture where copyright is respected and protected.

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