Legal and ethical implications of product images on e-commerce stores

Have you ever heard the saying “A picture is worth a thousand words”? It’s true. Images are powerful and can have a huge impact on your business. Whether it’s in the form of product photos or images representing your brand, you need to know how to use them effectively and understand the basics of copyright laws. This article will discuss several ways to ethically and legally use images on your website.

Use of images taken by other people

Always give credit where credit is due! Never use someone else’s work without their permission. You may run into trouble violating copyright laws if you don’t seek approval.

However, the good news is that there are several ways to freely use an image taken by someone else without asking for permission.

  • You have altered the photo enough so that it no longer looks like the original artwork. ● The image is in the public domain due to its age (that is, it was taken over 70 years ago)
  • You are using the work for educational purposes (educational use is legal and does not need to have permission from a copyright holder before use)
  • The original creator of the photo has already given you permission to use their work publicly How to get permission for images

To get permission, you’ll need to contact the original creator. While it might take a while, it’s better than running in legal hot water. If the photo you want to use is on social media such as Facebook or Instagram, the original owner has already given permission for their work to be used publicly, as those images are considered to be in the public domain.

If the image is not on any social media site, you need to contact the creator and ask for permission. Check their “about” page or website for their name and email address so you can send them a message. You will also be able to find information on how to contact the creator on Google using keywords from the image description.

What if I don’t get permission?

Don’t assume that it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission. You will likely be asked to remove the image or pay for its use at best. But in the worst case scenario, you could be sued.

It is very tempting not to ask for permission due to the amount of effort it takes to locate someone and wait for their response. But this lack of action is not worth it. Apart from legal issues, it could also ruin your reputation. In other words, don’t!

Always ask for permission, and if you can’t get it, whether it’s because permission is denied or you just can’t locate the original creator, go ahead and try another photo.

The difference between copyrighted images and those in the public domain

Images protected by copyright are protected by copyright law. This means that the creator of a copyrighted image retains the exclusive right to reproduce, distribute, and license it. In order to use someone else’s copyrighted work for commercial purposes (for example, for your online store), you must obtain their permission as only they can sell it or allow others to do so with his permission.

Images in the public domain are not protected by copyright law because they are in the public domain. This means that you can do whatever you want with them without asking anyone’s permission. You can use these images without fear of being sued on your blog posts, website, or any other form that represents your brand identity.

Two ways to legally use photos without asking permission

Photo bank

You can find legal and ethical free photos on the website This source can be useful if you run a blog or somehow try to make an image go viral, either by using it as an ad campaign or just as social media content. Basically you can use these images however you want.

Your own photograph

You can still use your own original photograph in two ways: you can take your own images or hire someone else to do it for you and grant you the rights to the photos or give you permission to use, or you can edit the photo enough so that it no longer looks like the original artwork.

Hire a professional photographer

If you are hiring someone, be clear about the rights to use the photos in the contract. For example, at Clothing and product photography studio in Los Angeles, they give their clients exclusive permission to use the images on their websites. However, no one other than the original photographers and the purchasing client has the right to use the images without obtaining permission.

Use only images that are relevant to your brand

This is just common sense, but it should be mentioned: only use on your site images that are relevant to your brand or the products sold in your store. This may not be a problem if you are using original photographs that you own. However, when purchasing stock photos or using public domain photos, make sure the content of the image accurately reflects what you are doing.

For example, if you sell men’s watches or run a blog about men’s watches, don’t use images that show other content, like a basic image of a beach (without a watch). Your beach image will confuse users and hurt your business. Also include descriptions in your photos detailing the purpose of the product or what it does, or even write a short paragraph on the associated image. Taking these actions will be more useful for potential customers and will increase the likelihood that they will take an action that is useful to you.

To wrap up

Images are an essential part of your marketing strategy. But before you upload an image to your online store, be aware of copyright laws. Is the image in the public domain or does it require permission from the original creator? If it is in the public domain, it is always courteous to give credit to the original creator. You can link to their profile or just mention the name, and there’s a good chance they’ll appreciate the nice gesture.

If you’re using someone else’s image that you got on a social media site like Instagram, the photo already exists in the public domain. But, always use proper attribution and give credit. If you want to avoid all this hassle in the first place, then you better use your own original photograph. The main point in all of this is to practice good judgment and to treat images as property.

You might be interested in: Foolproof Ways to Make Your SMS Campaign Work