As an internet entrepreneur, one of the easiest ways to get sued and lose a good amount of money is through copyright infringement lawsuits. The number of websites on the internet crossed the 1 billion mark in September 2014 and as a result, because of the sheer number of websites, a lot of things go on the internet that people take for granted.
However, if you are a serious entrepreneur with a serious vision and mission for your business and you want to grow and get bigger as you go along, you have to take note of everything that you post on your website. All kinds of content (including photos and videos) must be yours or at the very least get the permission of the owner of the content before you make use of those on your website.
In the case of articles (words), outright copying of an article is wrong and can get you in trouble, but, copying parts of an article and including citations is still termed as fair usage and is not frowned upon. But when it comes to images, the conditions for fair usage are quite blurry, making it a rather complex exception.
In regards to copyright issues on images and the kind of use permitted on a particular image, you need to be familiar with these four terms – fair use, creative commons, copyright and public domain. These are the different types of permissions that come with images on the internet.
Rather than worrying about studying about all these terms and becoming an expert in image copyrights and licensing on the internet, there is a simple way you can go about using a copyrighted image on your website without worrying about copyright infringement issues. You just have to simply look for the owner of the copyright of the image you want to use and get their permission before you make use of the image. This way, you get to discuss the exact use of the image you require and if the owner is fine with it. If you cannot identify the owner of the image or you are in doubt about who the original owner is, then do not use.
Lastly, even after identifying the owner of the copyright and you have gotten their permission to use the image, do not forget to attribute your source. This works both ways for images you got permission to use and images that are free to use in the public domain (images that are copyright-free).