With the launch of a new Twitter group "BoycottGetty" campaigning against Getty Images "extortion" of thousands of dollars from unsuspecting individuals or businesses using photos without permission I thought I'd explore the murky world of the legalities of using photos from the web for your own purposes.
Recently Dover council wanted an image of the White Cliffs to use on their website. They made the mistake of using a photo in which the white cliffs actually turned out to be in Sussex, 50 miles away. The story hit the newspapers. The Town Clerk, a person who you'd expect to know better said....
Click on an image. Google tells you "this image may be subject to copyright". What they should say is "This image is copyright". In 99.99% of cases they would be right. But by using the wet statement "may be subject to copyright" they are still correct and preserve the impression, shared by many, that unless there is a copyright notice next to or on the face of an image then it is fair game to grab it and use it. That impression, which preserves Google Images as the web's number one tool for finding images, is what this article is intended to debunk.
So, are all those cute scotty dog images really copyright? Well, if one was taken 100 years ago then it may be copyright free, or maybe the photo was taken in a third world country with no copyright laws. But the unfortunate reality is that copyright free is a concept too far, wishful thinking on the part of people who would like something for nothing.