Do you share images in your social media marketing?

Do you use downloaded images for promoting your business on social media?

Do you get your images from google search?


If you answered yes to the above then have you ever wondered if it’s OK to use the image for social media that you’re posting or if maybe you are violating copyright laws?

Let’s be honest It’s pretty hard when people are telling you that you should be spending at least an hour a day running your social media and posting on some platforms at least 6 times a day to then take time to grab your phone or camera to take the right shot or to start trawling through stock photos to get the right image.

Cue our good old friend Google. There you go a couple of clicks and a right click and save and you’ve got the perfect image to market your next event.

In a world of sharing content and the ease of which we can access images it is all to easy to just grab an image and to use it for your own marketing and promotions without thinking about who owns it or whether it has any copyright restrictions regarding rights and usage. There is a reason that some images you see have watermarks all over them (trust me we’ve seen these used, even with the watermark left on).


Copyright what’s that?

  • Copyright covers a variety of categories, including books, poetry, articles, music, lyrics, artwork, jewellery, photos, websites, blogs, movies, television, videos and photographs.
  • Copyright protection is automatic, meaning the work is presumed to be yours. Although many people use the copyright symbol © as a way of saying, “Hey, this stuff is all mine!”, the symbol is no longer legally required
  • This basically means that with this protection, you get certain rights. For example, no one else can use your work without permission.
  • The easiest way to think about copyright protection is to remember that If you didn’t create it, you may not be able to use it (even if you give the work’s creator credit).

All social media platforms have different terms as far as content is concerned and so its worth checking the terms for the platforms you are using. For example, it’s pretty much expected to share (retweet) someone’s tweet on Twitter and it is normally ok to re-pin on Pinterest (but not always) and as far as Instagram is concerned its terms are against reposting content, however obviously the nature of the platform means that most users want their images shared.

Well what if I give credit to the author or photographer surely that’s ok isn’t it?

Well in a word no it isn’t. Take it from me as my background is photography. Granted this will sometimes help and at least shows that you have good intentions, however unless you have actually gotten permission from the creator then you are still in violation of copyright and infringement especially if you are using something for commercial purposes. I’ve had it happen in the past and the culprits had no idea that they were in the wrong.

So how do I get around this?

The safest way is to obviously create your own content as that way you own it and can do what you wish with what you’ve produced. That however is not always possible and not all of us have the creative streak running through us to be able to produce stunning images that grab people’s attention.

So, then the next step is to look at using stock images. Now I know some of you may now be going well that’s it he’s lost it, why would I want an image of some plastic looking staged image that is obviously not mine and its cost me a fortune to use it. Well stock imagery has come a long way and there are a multitude of sites out there with easy to use search tools to find exactly what you want and need. One tip here though is to also ensure that you have made sure that you’ve selected the right usage licence for the image that you’ve chosen even on some royalty free stock sites. There are also a number of other online marketing tools out there that also give you access to various images for promotional material. You should also always use the advanced search options in Google to check for rights.


Now I’m no lawyer, but next time you need to grab an image to post to social media to promote your next big thing then take a second and think about whether you have the rights to use that image. If you don’t then trust me it’s a lot easier to take a little more time to search for the right image that gives you the rights as well as paying a nominal fee for the rights than it is to be hit with a huge copyright infringement bill from someone’s lawyers. Remember as well that as you are (or should be) actively promoting your pages then the chances of being caught out increase each time.

Its tricky and even the law struggles to keep up with social media let alone the users, but if you stop and check first then you are more likely to be safe. Educate yourself about copyright and the terms of each platform and ask yourself if you would be happy with someone using one of your images to promote themselves and possibly even a competitor?

Looking for online marketing and social media advice you can really trust? Ask us anything: we’re passionate about helping businesses grow online.

contact Live Wire Media today!


Author Stuart

Media & Marketing specialist, Photographer,Partner,Father,Beer lover & in my own world an ex Rock God

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