“Indemnification” and Cheap Stock Photos

Investing in cheap stock photos is about more than just getting a great deal for high quality images to boost your marketing efforts.  For many users, cheap stock photos are a flexible tool to help reach advertising goals on a budget, help spruce up boring looking websites, and help add graphical “flair” to all elements of a business.  But they are also a tool in a legal sense, and understanding their full value means understanding some of the ways that cheap stock photography is about more than just a great price.  Read on, and we will explain the concept of “indemnification,” why you should care, and what it all means for your relationship with cheap stock imagery.

What is “Indemnification?”

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Indemnification is a long and daunting legal term.  But it isn’t one that you should leave to your legal team to figure out, as it has a lot to do with investing in your business and running your business the right way.  To “indemnify” something is to protect it against loss, or the future risk of loss.  When you purchase insurance for your business, you are making an investment based on indemnification.  You indemnify your business by paying out of pocket today to avoid suffering a bigger loss tomorrow.

And when you understand some of the legality of image use, purchasing stock photography is another great example of indemnification.  When you pay to use cheap stock images, you aren’t just paying to get some snazzy graphical content today; you are paying to protect your business from a potential huge loss in the future.  Here’s how come.

Image Licensing 101

Image Licensing

We talk about this here on stock photo secrets often, but it’s so important that it’s worth revisiting.  Every image that has ever been taken is actually the intellectual property of the artist who took it, and unless they explicitly sign away their right to that image, it means they own it as creative and intellectual property.  Those laws exist to protect artists, but they have a powerful effect on your business too.  If you just grab a photo off of the internet and hope to use it for your business needs, you are actually breaking the law by violating the intellectual property of the photographer who took that image, unless you can get their permission for your use.

And if you ignore that law completely and use all images pulled off of Google images or other places on the web you might get away with it for a while.  But if your business grows and you start getting more visibility, the chances of you getting caught go up and up.  Plus, there are a lot of digital technologies that exist to help professional photographers learn when people are using their work without permission.  And all it takes is one person finding out you are using their imagery without licensure for you to be in big trouble.

If a photographer does find out you are using your imagery, they can immediately take you to court and sue you for damages commensurate with their work.  Especially since you would be using their imagery for commercial purposes, meaning you in some way profit from another artist’s imagery, a court is almost guaranteed to find in favour of the artist.  Meaning you will have to pay them for using their imagery retroactively, as well as pay for legal fees and the time lost.  So what’s the solution?  Indemnification, and cheap stock photos.

Cheap Stock Photos are Legal Insurance

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Every cheap stock photo in every library from every major stock photography vendor has been cleared for commercial use by the artist who took it.  When you pay for a cheap stock photo, that’s really what you are paying for.  Yes, you get the immediate value of high quality, high definition imagery.  You get a huge library of images you can search, and use as needed.  And you get great deals for just about any imagery you can find, which will save you thousands over hiring your own photographer.  But you also stay on the right side of the law. and indemnify yourself, insuring against future legal issues.

For these reasons, think of cheap stock photography as an investment.  Just like insurance, the money that you pay out of pocket today will be protecting you against losses in the future.  But in this case, you are making a purchase based on indemnification to protect yourself against future legal fees and fines.  Anyone who has been to court can tell you that those types of fees get out of hand quickly, and the fee you will have to pay an artist for using their image without permission will be a lot higher than what you could spend on a cheap stock photo.  So indemnify yourself, and pay now instead of later!