Let me start by saying that using stock images is perfectly acceptable and safe as long as you follow the seller’s regulations and pay for images that come with a price. Using an image with a watermark, however, is not ok…it is stealing. Even though we understand and honor copyright laws, mistakes can happen and, through such an error, we found out how serious the repercussions of breaking copyright law could be.
When we were first starting out, we had a printer accidentally print a draft of our files rather than our final version of a mailer for a client. The old version still contained an image with a watermark that we used as a placeholder before we purchased it. The mailer was printed and mailed to 2,000 residences. Not long after the mailing went out, our client received a call from the stock photo company asking if they had rights to use the image. Since we did, in fact, purchase the image, we were all safe. But, if the image had not been purchased, we would have been charged with copyright infringement. The stock photo company discovered this misuse of their property from a tiny mailing of just 2,000 pieces…scary!
Needless to say, we learned a valuable lesson and are now extremely cautious when using free or purchased images. We wanted to share our story with you as a follow up to our recent articles about using stock images to be sure you understand the seriousness of copyright law without going through the scare of a lifetime.