The digital age’s obsession with visuals makes it highly important to have an illustrative website. This attracts people to stay longer on your website. Using different images and illustrations in a web design also helps people understand complex ideas and information. 

But while the online world has infinite images and illustrations, you should be careful while using them on your website. You cannot use a picture you find through Google search without permission from its owner. Every picture or illustration online is the property of its author, and using it without authorization can lead to severe legal consequences. 

The incident with the Jonas Brothers serves as a warning. In October 2019, professional photographer Michele Eve Sandberg filed a complaint against the band for using her photographs of the band without authorization. She sought damages for copyright infringement and violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Similarly, many blogs, brands, and personalities got into legal trouble for using copyrighted images. 

Hence, you should only purchase visual resources from reliable stock image websites to be safe. 

What Are Stock Photos?

Stock images or photos are a collection of generic images, icons, and illustrations created without any specific project. Brands and individuals can pay a small fee to use them for their marketing campaigns. They are available in various niches, so people can conveniently use them on websites, book covers, product packaging, and even personal projects. 

Advantages of Using Stock Images

There are several benefits of incorporating stock images into your website. For starters, they are a time-saving resource and can easily be downloaded through various stock image websites. This allows you to dedicate the majority of your time and energy to the written content strategy and other aspects of the business. 

Another advantage of using stock images is saving the costs of expensive photoshoots, high-priced cameras, and arranging props. Since professional photographers shoot these pictures, they boast high quality that cannot be matched through any DIY method.

And, of course, the most prominent one is that it saves you from getting in legal trouble. But only if you follow the proper protocols. 

Legally Protecting Yourself When Using Stock Photos

The point of stock images is to help you avoid using any other image that might be copyrighted. However, specific measures need to be considered when using stock images. Here are some factors to keep in mind.

Images That You Should Not Choose

On a stock image website, you will find many photos of:

  • Private property
  • Landmarks
  • People and animals
  • Logos and Trademarks

Photographers must submit a ‘model release’ of the above-mentioned types of photos if they plan to offer them commercially. If you use such images, ensure a proper model release is attached to the picture. This will protect you if any legal formalities are thrown at you.

Read the Fine Print

When using stock images, you need to remember that every website has its own set of rules and guidelines. To avoid getting yourself in legal trouble, read the usage terms for each image you select. Also, read the general guidelines for users provided on every stock image website.

Some points to consider when reading the fine print:

  • Make sure that the images are available for commercial use.
  • Check whether you are allowed to modify the image or not.
  • Ensure that you are supposed to give credit/attribution to the website or the owner of the photo.

When in Doubt, AVOID

If you doubt a particular image or website’s credibility, it is better to avoid using them. Failure to follow the legal rules of using stock images can result in a penalty, lawsuit, DMCA takedown notice, and even jail time. 

Fortunately, a huge number of similar stock images are available on every stock photo website. So finding another shouldn’t be much trouble. A safer decision would be to select another photo rather than be hesitant.

Understanding Stock Photo Licenses

Stock photos are backed by a license. This governs their usage terms and the associated fees. These include:


After paying a one-time, flat fee, you can use a royalty-free image as often as you like. It is ideal for small business owners since it is affordable. Its most significant disadvantage is that due to its affordable price, the same image is used by many people. Hence the image often loses its uniqueness.

Rights Managed

A rights-managed stock image is expensive and may not be affordable for many businesses. The best part is that it is tailored to your needs. Also, a rights-managed stock image gives you the sole right to use the particular image, thus giving your brand a unique appeal.

Editorial Use

An editorial use stock image can only be used in publications and for the purpose of sharing a piece of news. They cannot be added to marketing or commercial content. 

Extended Use

Stock images with extended-use licenses can be used on sale products like mugs, t-shirts, caps, etc. You can utilize the pictures for the same product over and over again. 

Use Trusted Stock Agencies and Stay Legally Safe

Run a Google search, and you will come across an infinite number of websites providing stock images. Some may even claim to provide free-of-cost stock images. The safest choice is to use websites that other brands, bloggers, and influencers are using. Read reviews for the stock images website and sign up only after confirming them as a trusted source.

At the end of the day, you need to remember that you still do not own the pictures. Hence care and thorough research must be taken to ensure legal compliance.

Following the above strategies can help you avoid legal troubles and guarantee the ethical use of stock photos. For more assistance, feel free to contact our web design experts. We will help you create a stunning website with high-quality images without the risk of copyright infringement. 

branding blog

Get "Bits of Berry Wisdom"

Get valuable branding insights and inspiration sent straight to your inbox.

You have Successfully Subscribed!