Written by Merel Pierce
Good morning everyone! Today, I want to talk to you about something that is very important.
Image and Font Licensing
Whether you are creating promo images or covers for your books, most of those fonts, images and effects that you gather online to use are subject to licensing agreements. If you do not properly follow those licensing stipulations, there could be legal repercussions.
Let me start by saying this first. If you take anything away from this blog, let it be this – Nothing is free, and if you assume it is, you might be putting yourself at risk.
I’m not trying to scare you. Most of us have shared images we found online that we liked with others on social media. Should you always credit the photographer/artist/model when you can, or say where you found it? Yes. Do we? No, not always. But there is a big difference between sharing an image you like, and using an image you like for the purposes of promotion or sale.
If you want to cover your butt, always source your images and fonts from reputable stock sites. There are plenty of them out there.
Will it cost you money? Sometimes, yes.
Remember, you are using the creative product of another person. Would you expect an artist to paint you something for free? Or a photographer to do a full set of photographs to your specifications without charging? No. No you wouldn’t.
The people who create these images, fonts, and photoshop effects are trying to support themselves with their work. By uploading through stock sites, they receive a commission each time their product is downloaded and used by members. Generally, that commission is pretty small, so every penny counts.
So how does this work?
Most stock sites offer subscriptions to their clients. This means you can download a certain number of products per month, for a monthly or annual rate. Most also feature a buy as you need it option, where you can purchase individual items without having a subscription.
It is important to note, that just because you have a subscription to that particular service and can download an image or font style, it does not mean you have the right to use it any way you choose.
Most sites offer a standard license, and an extended license option. These vary from site to site, and sometimes even from image to image on any one site. It is very important to compare the two licenses and decide which is right for you. Most items default to a standard license, and give the option of choosing an extended option on the items page.
Below is a small portion of a comparison between standard and extended licenses for Depositphotos. It’s an extensive and detailed list, telling you exactly what you can and can’t do with that image, or how many times it can be used/viewed under that license.
Being careful to consider these options and choose the best suited one for you is important. You need to protect yourself, and your work, and having a lawsuit filed or being forced to pull a book down from publications because you didn’t have permission to use the artwork on the cover can be devastating.
It’s very, very worth the investment.
Even if an image says copyright free, free to use, it’s still your job to trace that image and make certain that it truly is available for you to use in the manner you wish. There are a lot of shady characters on the internet who steal images and repost them without permission of the original artist.
Keep track of where you get each image/font/etc (I keep mine in separate folders, for each site I’ve gotten them from). The sites themselves will keep track of your licensing agreements, but it’s not a bad idea to keep a folder of them yourself on your computer. Keep any discussions/contact info you have with ‘artists’ or ‘site admins’ that you may contact when inquiring about the usage rights of products on small or individual sites. If you are hiring someone to make a cover for you, request information about where they obtain their images and what licensing is attached to the image. Most of all? If you aren’t sure? Don’t use that item.
Remember, the people who create those images, fonts, and effects are just like you and me… They are trying to build their dream. Don’t try to cut corners or save money at their expense. <3
Below, you will find a list of reputable stock sites you can use 😀 There are many more, but just be sure to do your research!