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Using images online

We look at the rules around using photos online, including on your own website and social media
camera lenses on keyboard

If you’re pleased with a job you’ve done, it’s a great idea to take a photo of your work and post it online to tell everyone about it. This lets consumers see examples of your work, and acts as free marketing - remember though, you must ask permission of the owner before you take photos on their property.

As valuable assets in your marketing toolkit it’s a good idea to protect your images - you can:

  • place a watermark on your photos to identify your business
  • incorporate a company logo into the image.

You own the copyright to any photograph you take - unless taking it was part of your job, in which case it belongs to your employer. But if you use photographs other people have taken you must ask their permission. 

Copyright of photographs

Using photographs and images you find on the internet or social media, without permission, can land you in hot water. If you use images without the consent of the owner, you will probably be infringing the owner’s copyright. The owner could ask you to take the photos down, could demand payment for your use of their image or worse, could sue you for infringing their intellectual property rights. All this could cause your business irreparable reputational damage.

If you use images of work that you did not carry out, you MUST NOT claim that the work is your own. Falsely claiming work as your own is dishonest and misleading and could be a breach of consumer protection legislation. If a Which? Trusted Trader is found to be carrying out this type of practice, they will be in breach of the Code of Conduct and risk being removed from the scheme.

How to use someone else's images correctly

You can use someone else’s photographs and images if you have permission to use them. You must ensure that the permission covers you for the purpose you intend to use the image for, this could be any or all of:

  • commercial or non-commercial use on your website
  • commercial or non-commercial use on another website 
  • use on social media
  • use in other marketing materials.

You must comply with any requirements relating to the use of the images, for example, some image owners may require that you don’t alter their images.

You can ask other people to take photographs of your work and use those images with their permission. However, if you are using images of other people's work, you MUST NOT mislead consumers into thinking that images depict your own work.

If you want to use an image, remember to ask yourself these questions:

1 Do I own the image?

2 Do I have a licence to use the image?

If you cannot answer ‘yes’ to one of these questions DO NOT USE THE IMAGE.

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Tags: Marketing Photographs Images

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