How many times has it happened that you liked a certain photo on the web and wanted to use it on social media, but weren’t sure if you can do that? Because – image copyrights!

Undoubtedly, finding the right image for your content is no less than a blessing. The right image deepens the meaning and impact of your content almost instantly. But this is when image copyrights make things complicated. 

So, how do you deal with copyrights? Let’s dig into the related details, and find how to make sure that you never have a lawsuit on your hands.

What Are Image Copyrights?

Copyright all lights reserved sign.

Even if you don’t see the name of the artist, image copyright is automatic. The ownership of the photographers or artists over their work is absolute. 

In some images, you will see the copyrighted  branding, and in some, you don’t. However, both are equally protected by EU copyright law. You cannot reproduce or use that work. You cannot distribute or even display it without the owner’s permission.

Social media falls under this law. In the EU as well as 176 member countries, owners register their work as per the agreement in The Berne Convention, which guarantees the work of the artist is protected up to 50 years after death.

So how do you use images without hiring an exclusive photographer at an expensive price? There are ways that will keep you safe from committing copyright infringements.

Keeping Safe From Committing Copyright Infringements

Practicing Fair Use 

Social media might seem like a grey area when it comes to fair use of images, but this is not the case. Copyrighting rules apply here as well. If you would like to use an image that you don’t own, you need the owner’s permission through licensing or contacting the creator directly. If you get permission to use, distribute or display the image, keep its written record for future purposes.

If someone is uploading an image on their public Instagram account, this does not make that image public property. The account owner still has copyrights, however, there are legal ways to bypass this issue.


Some social media platforms will allow you to share the uploaded image of users on the same platform. You can retweet on Twitter, share Instagram stories or share Facebook posts. This credits the users directly and does not violate any laws

Plus, you are only able to share it because the user has enabled the sharing feature, giving consent to the sharing of the image. However, don’t claim it as your own.


If you are a brand, then your users might generate content that you like and want to share on your account. Since Instagram and other platforms don’t have a re-posting feature, you will still need the permission of the user to be able to share it. Brands encourage people to post photos with hashtags and mentions, with the promise that they will feature that content on their website. Send a DM to the creator to get consent on whether the user is alright with the reposting.

Source Legal and Free Platforms Where People Share Their Images

Person choosing a picture from PC.

If you don’t have the budget to pay for professional photography, there is no need to spend thousands of dollars. There are excellent free, image sharing platforms that will let you search images that fit the messaging of your content, download them and upload the images in your social media posts. 

These are some of the popular, high-quality photo archives you can source free and legal images from.

Google Advanced Image Search

Google is an excellent resource because it connects with various stock photography websites. Go to the advanced image search and fill-up the keywords that you want to look for. Specify the details of the image like size, ratio, etc. Select the appropriate type of usage. For social media marketing, you can use “free to use, share or modify, even commercially.”

You will find many images that match this category. Check again if the license details on the page are correct, and then you are good to go.

Free Stock Photography Sites

Gratisography is one such website where many professional photographers upload their images. You can go through these websites and see the images which don’t have any licensing fee. 

You do have to read the conditions of using the images that you use from a stock library because some images use licenses and you don’t want to use any of those. Some other sites are NewOldStock or Jay Mantri, and they also have a great collection of professional photographs ripe for use.

Creative Commons Search Portal

Creative Commons is a search portal, which will let you filter images by the type of licenses that you want for the image. You have to check the box that says you are looking to be using this image in a social media marketing or commercial capacity. 

If you want to edit the image by cropping, adding filters, or doing any manipulation in photoshop, then you will also have to select the Modify option. You will get a list of images that match all these criteria and can be safely used in your campaign.

Getty Images 

Getty Images is the biggest photo agency and has hundreds of millions of photos in the image library. You will find photos based on certain licensing models. The royalty-free images are the safest to use. These licenses will let you use images globally, without paying any charge whatsoever in perpetuity. You can use the images multiple times too.

The Next Steps

As you can see, dealing with copyrights is not that tough. All you need to do is stick to the existing laws, and play fair. 

So, what are your views on this? How do you deal with images copyrights on social media? Let us know in the comments below.