May 11, 2023
When you design the layout of your book, you probably want to add book images, pictures, and photographs. You may also want an illustration for the cover, graphics on your author website, or pictures to use in your marketing campaign.
If those images were created by someone else, you’ll have to tread carefully to make sure you’re not violating copyright laws. Doing so can get you into serious legal hot water. Here’s what you need to know to stay on the right side of the law with book images.
Are you confused about copyrights, licensing, and free use? Here’s a brief guide to the some of the key terms you need to know when looking for book images.
You’ve been searching the internet for just the right book images, and you think you’ve found them. Before you borrow a picture from a website or other source, look for clues that it might be protected under copyright laws.
In general, it’s not a good idea to use book images you find on internet searches. These book images are often published without attribution or proper licensing. The users may not have been caught yet, and they may not even be aware that they’re doing anything wrong, but they are breaking the law.
Always assume that an image you find online has a copyright owned by someone. If you want to find out for sure, look for one of these clues.
A caption or an image credit is a clear sign that someone else holds the copyright to an image. This might be a person or an agency. On some websites, you may see a link that takes you to the license holder. If you’re set on using that picture, contact the owner and ask for permission to use the picture. In some cases, you will get a “Sure, go ahead, as long as you give me credit.” In others, you will have to pay for the privilege.
If you found your book images through a Google search, you can use Google’s “Reverse Image Search” function to get to the sources of those pictures. You may have seen this technique on TV shows that investigate internet scammers. The reverse image search will take you to every online appearance of that image, and you’ll eventually get to the original one. That’s where you’ll find out who owns the copyright on it.
A watermark is a layer of print that lays on top of an image. Some copyright holders put large, obvious watermarks on images they own. Others use fainter lines that you might miss on first viewing. If you see a wavy or blurry spot on the image, it might be a watermark.
All book images online have metadata. This is the digital information stored inside the picture. If you’re working in Windows, right-click on the picture, and then select “Properties.” This will reveal the metadata and show the copyright information. If you’re using a Mac, click on “Tools” and “Show inspector,” and then click the “I” icon. Hit the “EXIF” tab to reveal the metadata.
You may think you’re too unimportant for the government to go after you for copyright infringement. However, violating copyright laws can result in serious penalties, including:
The excuse that you found something widely used across the internet won’t work as a defense. In 1998, the government passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which protects copyright owners from unlawful digital downloads of their works.
In short, don’t take unnecessary chances. There are plenty of places where you can find high-quality book images, pictures, graphics, and photographs that you can use without violating copyright laws.
The good news is that there are creators out there who are happy to share their work with you. You can create a beautiful cover and other great-looking book images while protecting yourself and your book.
Here are some top sites where you’ll have access to thousands of beautiful book images, including photographs and videos. Although most are free to use without attribution, it’s always a nice gesture to give credit to the creator.
Pexels: This well-designed site is chock-full of photographs, artwork, and other creative materials. The site holds a Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license, which means that everything is free and available for any use.
Freerange Stock: This site holds thousands of high-quality photographs. It’s free to register for a membership. You can view photos by category, see the latest additions, or check out what’s most popular. You can use these book images for personal or commercial purposes.
Gratisography: Although this is a smaller site than some of the others on the list, its photographs are consistently high in quality. It works under a Creative Commons license.
Pixabay: This site specializes in royalty-free pictures, drawings, photos, videos, and music. The Pixabay license allows you to use them without asking for permission or giving credit, even if you’re using them for commercial purposes.
Unsplash: Like Pixabay, Unsplash has its own license that allows free use of all its material. You’ll find huge numbers of free artwork, photographs, videos, animations, and more. You can use them for anything–except to create a website that competes with Unsplash.
As a book author, you benefit from the same laws that protect other creators. Fortunately, it’s easy to stay out of trouble. You can choose images and pictures that beautify your book without infringing on anyone else’s rights.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this guide. When it’s time to publish you book, images and all, contact Publishing Xpress.
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