• great advice – can’t believe people still use images without permission.

    • I know… it’s crazy that people still think google images is a free for all.. not using the innate sharing link of a platform is risky too (and just not necessary too) as I know of people in legal battles over that too. It’s polite to hit share and credit the original page, regardless.

  • Thanks Donna. A reminder now and again is great. I try to follow these as it is just plain stealing if you use others work inappropriately. It does add time to find a royalty free image so sometimes it is easier to pay the small amounts on canva or one of the other sites than waste time looking. Prepaid options are great and I have a couple of other site for when Canva does not have the image I need.

    • TOTALLY! I definitely opt for creating my own or paid images now… and I agree, Pre-paid options are great or memberships. Canva is great for that purpose!

  • deborahhartserafini

    Thanks, Donna. I love your stuff always! The copy editor in me cannot pass this up, though… “Promise me you will put the reigns on?”, should be “reins”. Don’t shoot me! I can’t help myself!

    • Ha! thanks! Funnily enough I know it’s reins but must have just subconsciously substituted it…that’s why I love blogging – easy fix! It could have been worse… ie switched their/there/they’re (I would be mortified about that – I think as we get older the wrong words start to pop out haha).

  • Great post, Donna! I shared it in my Social Media for Health Coaches Facebook group. Here’s what I said …

    “Are you using images on Twitter, FB, Pinterest, et al? Check out this great advice from a well-known blogger who’s one of THE pros on the topic of visuals for social media. And she’s from Down Under, so you gotta love that.”

    Oh — and I tweeted it, too, but it’s Buffered and will be out sometime later. 🙂

  • Great post. Us UK bloggers have recently been discussing copyright issues and Google images, because there’s still people using them, and telling others that it’s fine as long as you credit. It drives me insane, and some are convinced they’re right when obviously they aren’t. I shall be sharing this with them.

    • Thanks Emma… and wowzers… I understand ignorance as sometimes people don’t know better but when they should know better but still tell people the wrong thing it frustrates me… I know that there are ways to search on google images for the source of an image but I have still heard of that going wrong and it’s not set up as a proper stock library with customer support etc… just seems waaaaaay easier to avoid it altogether. But I agree with you- there are a lot of bloggers that post an image and then add “credit to…” below it – huge risk. Huge.

  • Great tips Donna. Now that Canva magic re-sizes your image for the different platforms it makes the image vomit thing really easy! Are you saying that for our blog post (for example) we should create different images (as in the content of the image) for each platform?

    • Hey Laney – glad you liked it. Yes definitely Canva is a huge help with the magic button. It’s more about avoiding the same post going out to all platforms at the same time and in every FB group etc at the same time… mix it up over a couple of days and you can get a little creative by using different versions of the same image (even changing the caption) or if you are strapped for time, then at the very least use the Canva Magic Button to resize from square to portrait etc. Then you are posting the right size to the right platforms – ie square works for Instagram and Facebook, landscape works for Facebook and Twitter portrait works for PInterest and Google+… my workflow is to usually create those 3 sizes when I create a blog post and when I create those images I will sometimes modify the pinterest version to make it a little different or perhaps use a different background image for the Instagram image etc. But for busy people who need to save time, Canva Magic Button is a winner!

  • surprisinglives

    Great post, Donna, I must say though that’s it’s somewhat scary that you need to remind us especially on some of these points! LOL

    • Yes it is a little scary. I see one of these every day… especially where people take an image and upload it as their own on facebook instead of using the share function… drives me crazy to see people not just use the share button – and don’t get me started on google images haha

  • Suzanne Stephens

    Donna, just a brief
    comment about #3. “Credit” isn’t sufficient license to use another
    creator’s image. People need to understand that per U.S. law at least,
    they MUST get written permission to use an image. Giving credit is not
    the same as getting permission in writing.

    • Oh hi Suzanne – I just realised you commented here as well as emailing me (I replied to your contact form as your email was blocking my reply) – here’s my response – hope it clears up that I agree with you – maybe you didn’t get to read the whole post? Here’s what I wrote back…

      Hi Suzanne

      Thanks for your comment. I am guessing maybe you didn’t get to read the post? I totally agree and I am constantly telling people to not upload an image as their own on Facebook and then write “credit from” – it doesn’t cut it (same goes for blogs in fact) Maybe you missed this in the post:

      “….And what’s the harm in sharing someone else’s image by hitting “share” on Facebook rather than doing all the downloading and uploading? Nothing.

      And no, attributing the image with “Sourced from… xyz Facebook Page” is not really cutting it. Facebook may still deem this to be breaching copyright if you are challenged.

      Not to mention the owner of the original image deeming it a breach of their copyright if you do not use the in-platform share function. And when it comes to your website refer back to #1 – don’t use any images without a licence or explicit permission.

      And when it comes to Facebook, you can get some pretty good “Facebook Reach” juice by sharing an image from another page, especially if that page is getting some good reach and engagement. Facebook likes Facebook”.


      Hope that helps clear it up! I do agree – I couldn’t agree more.

      • Suzanne Stephens

        Thanks for taking the time to reply to me both here and via email, Donna.

  • Veronika med K

    I agree with the overkill of branding, but having SOME reference really helps prevent copyright issues, for those of us that may be saving images en masse to use later, when relevant to our own audience/something we’re talking about. It’s an opportunity to have your word/creation spread at a later date, rather than being discarded because the would-be-happy-sharer can’t figure out what the source is.

    And SOOO agree on not posting the same thing across various platforms! If you do this, I will inevitably unsubscribe/unfollow you on one or the other because who has time for all this duplication? Not me! 🙂 But if I like you, I’ll happily follow you everywhere if you adjust your approach 🙂

  • I have heard from many people that using Google Images is OK IF you use the advanced search function, scroll down to Usage Rights, and select “free to use, share or modilfy, even commercially” from the drop down. Is this incorrect?

    • Hi – yes I know that there is a search function however I don’t recommend it in any of my posts because people read into it that they can just search and grab and image when in actual fact I know people who have used that function and then found out that an image was incorrectly listed or later bought by a stock company (who then send them a “please pay up” letter) – it’s why I have come to a place where I just recommend steering clear of it altogether unless you do major checking on the image you search for and track it to it’s source and get written permission/usage guidelines – but the problem is most people don’t and that’s where they come unstuck. But yes, it is an option – I just don’t recommend it.

  • I hear you about google images, I used to search for ages through search and waste a lot of time. I ponied up for a yearly subscription to a image provider and it is a lot easier and safer, not that I have had any problems previously but, in the voracious world of litigation you do not want to get into any conflict.

    • Totally! It’s the changing goal posts that worry me and what might be ok to use now can be snapped up by another image company and then deemed not ok to use – I don’t mind paying and to be honest you get better range and quality when you pay, and there are some affordable options out there with sites like Canva – as you say – peace of mind!

  • Great Blog, as always Donna. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    • Cheers Cassie – glad you liked it (hey I am doing a workshop for Sunshine Coast Destination in November if you know any small businesses in tourism that might be interested – I can send info. It’s about visual content. It’s really affordable for members and I don’t do workshops really anymore so it’s a good opportunity for them to get a full day training.

  • Megan Roth

    This may be a novice question, but I’m going to ask anyway :o) What about quotes in plain graphic/background that you may see in several places? If you wanted to share the quote in a graphic and then write more about it, cane create your own graphic with the quote (cited) and be ok?

    • That’s a fine question! It’s ok to make a quote image about any quote, but I do recommend that you make sure that (a) you check the source (sometimes there are more than one sources attributed and you can usually do a search to find the original – people sometimes get it wrong) (b) make sure you add the name of the person making the quote. There are many versions of many quotes floating around the internet… as long as you are not claiming it as your own work and you attribute it correctly then there should be no issue. But just some extra advice …keep your branding off or very minimal – make it about the quote. Hope that helps! (oh and you can share the quote image made by someone else – for instance on facebook if it was produced by a page that is getting decent traffic sometimes by sharing that image (keeping the link to the page) it will still get good reach and engagement for you – worth considering. You not only build relationships with other pages/businesses but it saves you the time creating every image.

      • Megan Roth

        Thank you!! One more follow up– what if it is one of those funny little things going around that don’t seem to have a source. An example, I’ve seen this floating around “this morning I choked on a carrot and all i could think was “I bet a doughnut wouldn’t have denotes to me.” does that make sense? Just floating around in several places with no source??

        • ah ok – so in that case I google the heck out of the terms and see if it comes up anywhere and then if you can’t find a source you wouldn’t copy it – but would take the “concept” and make your own – ie “why is it that carrot is always the thing you will choke on. Chocolate would never do this to me. Never” etc. Just think laterally.. that’s the safest way. If it is a polish proverb or something then it’s (I believe) acceptable to post it again with a different picture etc though. But for these “observational humour” posts I would be respectful that someone came up with that exact line and create your own version. You can also put “source unknown” or “anonymous”. but I would prefer to avoid that if possible. You can sometimes also search in google images for it and find examples of that same phrase (just don’t use the images haha).

          • Megan Roth

            Thank you so much for your answers and your time!! Totally helped!!

          • Awesome, glad it helped!

  • Always great content in your posts, I am happy to say I am not guilty of ever using someone else’s image. I see it so many times and it irks me, especially on platforms like IG.

    • haha cool – and yes I think Instagram opens it up for even more cowboy behaviour as there is no natural “share” function… and people often don’t bother to use any sort of repost app which is better than nothing but still not the same as in-platform sharing. But when people do it without any intention of credit, that’s the worst on any platform. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Burlington Parents

    Great post Donna, thanks. I have used google images that are labelled “OK to reuse”, I guess I assumed it was listed correctly and never considered the image might later be purchased. Appreciate your insight on that one.

    I totally agree on Facebook sharing versus “source by”, didn’t even realize that was happening. I have a related question. Lots of blog posts curate content from around the web and use images from other sites with a link and attribution to the original source (ala buzzfeed). Interested in your perspective on whether that is OK or if permission is needed.

    • Ah great questions – firstly yes, I have had a few people comment about Google’s “ok to re-use” – I just don’t recommend it unless you can click through and sight the actual “terms of use” for that image. I just don’t yet feel comfortable with people using Google images as a stock photo library in that way, even though they have the “ok” photos listed. I want to see a terms of use for the photos… so if you have that and you keep it saved, then at least you have a record of how it can be used. As for the bloggers taking images and then putting them on their site with a “sourced from” I think that is a huge no-no. Firstly, many images on blogs are taken by photographers or bloggers who are photographers and there can be huge copyright implications.

      I think if you contact the blogger and get permission in writing then that’s another story and most likely fine but to just scrape it off their site and add it to yours – I see this done in many recipe compilations – I would say don’t do it. It only takes one blogger or photographer (or heaven forbid they have used a stock photo) and you will get a legal letter asking for payment, and I have heard of this happening. It’s different perhaps if you are doing it in an editorial sense – ie featuring their blog as a place to visit and capturing an image of the blog, but I would still send them a heads-up. Adding “sourced by” in some of these cases may get you by but it’s no guarantee.. hope that helps! But it seems your “gut” is telling you the answer anyway haha.

      • Burlington Parents

        Thanks Donna, really appreciate you taking the time to respond and your insight.

  • Julie Toogood

    It’s amazing the number of “social Media managers” guilty of plagiarism and copyright breaches. We see it all the time. The copyright act clearly states you must have permission in writing to use someone else’s property. There are some really severe penalties for businesses when they use other peoples copyrighted material. A lot of government tourism agencies up here are in the habit of taking photos off Instagram and reposting. Not ok.

    • Yes there is no excuse really – my motto is always to use the “in-platform” sharing function on each platform. I wish Instagram would introduce one. At the very least I think people need to use a repost app that includes the link and the watermark but even then I think it needs to be with permission. Some tourism agencies make it clear that if you share and tag to them they may share your image and many small biz want that as it is great exposure and they get a lot of new followers and traffic, but I am not sure of the legalities of that one. With instagram not letting direct-link shares like FB, it is hard to make it an absolute. I just stay away from it unless I have permission.

      • Julie Toogood

        Visit Queensland provided a document to the businesses that basically stated that if a post was hash tagged as #visitqueensland then they were free to use it. To be honest I was pretty shocked they did not get some sort of legal advice because this is clearly not true. They don’t own a hashtag. I

  • Miami Real Estate

    Great tips!

  • Great stuff. I especially identify (unforunately) with number 4.

    • haha yes it’s hard when we have limited time not to post it all at once, that’s for sure! Thank goodness for tools!