If you use images on your site that you did not create, we want to remind you to BE CAREFUL of copyrights and terms of use. Website owners and content creators can become party to costly usage fees and lawsuits by unknowingly re-publishing images that are protected by a copyright.

Pitfall #1: It’s’ SUPER EASY to save and republish a copyrighted image without even knowing it.  

When you browse or search sites online, you can save off almost any image that comes across your screen, but just because it is so easy does not mean that those images are not copyrighted. Most publication platforms also do not have any way to determine that an image that you are publishing is bound by copyright, so at no point will you be warned that the images you are working with are copyrighted. This means that is as easy as a couple of clicks to violate a copyright without even knowing you’re doing it! 

You can avoid this pitfall by doing your homework. First off, don’t simply save an image from a website and trust that because it was so easy to do, that there is no copyright to worry about. If you can’t determine for certain that the image is not bound by some copyright or terms of use policy, then please do not use it!

Pitfall #2: The Internet is vast and I won’t get caught. 

You might be lulled into thinking that because the internet is so vast, if you do happen to publish an image that is copyrighted that it’s unlikely anyone would even notice. While it’s true that the Internet is vast, don’t be fooled by its vastness! The internet is also filled with bots that are constantly scanning the web for copyrighted imagery. These bots will know when an image is copyrighted and report back to their owners (copyright enforcement companies) that will not hesitate to slap you with a lawsuit or usage fee. 

Solution: Don’t take a chance. Do your homework. If you find that an image is copyrighted, bound by a Terms of Use policy that is not royalty free, or if you simply can’t find a record of a copyright at all, play it safe and don’t use the image.

Pitfall #3: It’s OK. If I get caught, I’ll just take the image down.

That is a nice thought, but there is nothing that says that you must be presented with a warning before a more costly step is taken. Copyright holders and their representatives will go right for your pocketbook and will have the screenshots to prove that you used their image, so removing it from your site will often not help.

Solution: Again, just do your homework and don’t post an image if you can’t confirm that it is royalty free to use. 

Pitfall #4: You’re an easy target for scammers if you’re worried about image copyrights and the royalty status of your site’s images

Recently we have heard about a sudden push of scam emails that are targeting site owners. Basically, these scammers don’t even check your site, they just send you an angry, threatening email telling you that they’ve found an image on your site that infringes upon a copyright. They also provide a “link to the offending image” or a “link to resolve the conflict” — but instead of a link to the image or a legitimate site, it takes you to a malicious site where your computer may be infected with malware or you may be encouraged to enter sensitive information into a form. As  you can see, if you are already nervous about the validity of your images, you might be compelled to believe this scam.

Solution and prevention: Don’t click on links in threatening emails. And if you’re nervous about the copyrights on images that you’ve used on your site, invest the time to research each image, and pull down those that you find are copyrighted or that you can’t confirm are royalty free.

Where can inexpensive or royalty-free stock images be found?

There are a number of options out there these days. For an excellent selection of free or relatively inexpensive stock image options, check out pixabay.com, unsplash.com, and pexels.com

What if I get a scary email regarding my site?

If you receive an email about your site that threatens legal or other repercussions if you don’t take some action (pay someone money or bitcoin, visit some link, provide some information, etc); please don’t panic. Don’t reply to the email or click any links that are provided. If you are a Nine Planets customer and would like us to check into it, simply forward the email to us to take a look at and we can help you determine if it’s a scam or a legitimate concern.