Today, if you want to market your writing, and books, using image marketing is essential to get attention.
This brings up the thorny topic of the copyright of images. Someone ALWAYS owns an image — yes, even those images labelled “free.” Over the past weeks, I’ve received messages from writers who assumed that “free” meant “free.”
It’s worth taking a few moments BEFORE you use an image, so that you know that you’ve licensed the image appropriately.
Image marketing: did you create the image? You (maybe) own the copyright
The only time you can use an image in any way you choose is if you created the image. On the other hand, if someone paid you to take an image, they own the copyright to the image.
You may have:
• Taken the photo… but if the photo contains recognizable people, you must obtain a photo release from them. You can do an online search for “photo release form” and you’ll find many examples;
• Drawn an illustration, which is all your own work, not a copy of someone else’s. (Nor is your illustration a drawing of anyone recognizable — celebrities “own” their own images. They’ve copyrighted themselves, if you like…)
Someone always OWNS an image
When you use an image, no matter where you get it from, someone owns the copyright to that image. Yes, even if the image is labelled “free.”
I’ve lost count of the numbers of bloggers who’ve messaged me after they received a “cease and desist” letter, or an invoice from a copyright holder for anywhere between $200 and $10,000 for ONE image… all because they trusted the word “free.”
As we’ve said, whenever you find an image, someone owns it.
I’m as frugal as anyone else, but I hate hassle. Therefore, I get my images from stock photo libraries, from which I license images. My images cost me from a dollar upwards each.
Or I snap the photo myself.
VITAL: the first thing you must do, before you pay for and download an image, is check the website’s image licensing terms.
Let’s look at examples of licensing terms from image libraries.
The all-important image license: check which rights you’ve licensed when you “buy” an image
When you “buy” an image, you’re not buying an image, you’re obtaining a license to use it. The copyright to the image remains with the image’s creator — or the current license holder, if the seller bought all rights to the image.
I subscribe to Adobe Stock, but before I subscribed, I checked out Adobe’s Standard License terms.
(A) Subject to your compliance with the Terms, if you have purchased a Standard License, then we grant you a non-exclusive, perpetual, worldwide, non-sublicensable, non-transferable license to use, reproduce, modify, or display the Work, up to 500,000 times as further described in section 3.1(B)(1), (‘‘Standard License’’) for:
(1) marketing, promotional, internal presentation or decoration purposes;
(2) digital productions such as websites, mobile advertising, mobile applications, e-cards, e-publications (e-books, e-magazines, blogs, etc.); and
(3) personal or non-commercial uses.
Another image license example
I’ve used Dreamstime for years. From the site:
If you want to download and use our images, you should know:
Our standard license agreement is the Royalty-Free license which means you pay for the image only once and then you can use the image as many times as you like, with just a few restrictions. This is a one-person license and can be used only by the account owner or his employee, for the company’s own projects or clients and cannot be transmitted to another party. Royalty Free licensed images can be used on websites, TV-programmes, for educational projects, in magazines, newspapers, books or booklets, covers for books, flyers, games and any advertising and promotional materials, in either printed or electronic media. This list is not exhaustive. Please email support using the contact form if you have doubts or questions.
Indie author image providers: Period Images’ license
Are you hunting for images for book covers? Period Images has a great selection of photos suitable for historical novels.
Our images are primarily for Book Covers, book-related Promotional Materials, and permitted Artwork only.
Our photos and licenses may not be used for, and by individuals/businesses/websites/magazines or publications/film or video production engaged in pornography, sex trade, illegal activities, and similar industries.
1.) Web License $8.95 (One-time use, small size)
Single use, e-book cover only (not for paperback books. May not be used for more than one ebook cover)
Image marketing: to sum up, before you use an image…
Important: always read the FULL rights you’re licensing, before you use an image.
Also, avoid using “free” images, if you can. If you can’t, download the website’s terms, and keep them.
You never know when a copyright holder will remove his image from a free site. The copyright holder may decide that he wants payment for that “free” image. You’ll have no way of knowing that you’re now using the image illegally. Until of course, you receive a lawyer’s letter, or an invoice from the copyright holder.
Image marketing is powerful, and effective. However, you do need to be wary when you use an image, whether it’s for a book cover, a blog post, or for any other reason.
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