Stop Stealing from Artists

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Screen shot of a Google Image search results. To the right of the enlarged image are the copyright terms. It’s almost too small to see.

So, you want to post a cool image on your social media page? What’s the first thing you do? You google the image you want, thousands pop up on Google Images and you find the one you like and download. Never-mind the disclaimer that says “may be subject to copyright”, you’re just putting it on Facebook, what’s the harm in that? The harm is that those images belong to someone. Google Images is not a free image store, it is a search engine for photos. It allows you to find images and gives the links to the sites they’re from, nowhere does it say “Hey, download this copyrighted image and use it however you want instead of going to a stock image site and paying for it”.

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This is my photo that I sell as stock on Pond5. The watermark is meant to make the image visually unusable.

Now, here’s where I get ticked. When people decide to go to stock footage sites, but instead of paying the few dollars for an image, they download the comp image and use that. Why do you think this is ok? Photos and graphics on those sites are submitted by artists to make money. In order to get paid, they usually have to sell a minimum amount to get a payout. When you download the comp and use it, you are essentially stealing. The stock company doesn’t get paid and the artist doesn’t get paid.

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Post I found on Facebook.

Now let’s talk about how tacky it is to use an image like this. I’ve seen it countless times on Facebook, but I also, on a daily basis, have to post a Snopes.com article telling people that what they just posted is a scam, so Facebook isn’t really a good measuring stick, but I digress. I’ve seen it in video clips. I’ve even seen them in professional presentations at conferences. Doing this makes you look cheap and lazy. Someone took that photo, or made that graphic, created an account to sell it online, and wants to be paid for people using them. Downloading the free comp is supposed to be for sample use.

What comps should be used for:

  • To make sure that it works in your layout.
  • To show different options to a client without wasting money.
  • To try various options before picking a favorite.

What comps should NOT be used for:

  • An image you need but don’t want to pay for.
  • Social media posts because you think it doesn’t matter.
  • Presentations of any kind.

The first part of this post was a rant. This part is a plea. Please stop using watermarked images. They aren’t free. Don’t fall into the dreaded right/control click and save. Just because it seems easy to save, doesn’t mean you have the rights to use it. They aren’t free. Artists created these images and they put them on those sites to sell, if they had wanted to give them away, they would have. They aren’t free. If it has a watermark on it, pay for it. THEY AREN’T FREE!

Keep artists encouraged to create.

Violet thanks
Violet was made in Adobe Fuse CC, posed in Adobe Photoshop CC, and graphics made in Adobe Post.

You may now return to your regularly scheduled activities, as long as it isn’t misusing someone’s work.

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