We ALL draw inspiration from the work of others. It’s how we learn and, hopefully, how we come up with ideas and styles of our own. However, it is something else entirely if we present another person’s work as our own. You may say, “I don’t do that. I don’t SAY it’s mine. I post stuff on social media because it inspires me (and makes my feed look AH-maaaazing).”
- - - > Insert cringing emoji here.
Here's the deal :: by posting an image without permission AND not giving credit, you're letting the world believe it’s yours. Maybe you’ve never thought about it like that, but it’s true. You're building your reputation—your BRAND—on the hard work of someone else. And that’s not cool.
And, worse yet, you may actually contribute to a missed PAID opportunity for that lovely creator down the road. (Yep. Your seemingly innocent post can actually starve artists.)
Whaaat. Ok. Let’s talk about what we can do to fix this!
When is it ok to share or use an image?
It’s actually never ok to use someone else’s image without their permission. Ever. BUT, most creatives like free advertising, so they’re usually ok with it IF you give them proper credit.
The obvious exception is if you paid to use the image and are not required to give credit, or you found the image on a website that does not require payment OR credit. (A great example of this is unsplash.com. Read about their license here.) Please use common sense and be sure you’re on a legitimate website. Free images should be crisp, clear, and relatively big. If the photos are tiny or look of poor quality, the website owner may have stolen them.
What counts as “proper credit”?
First, let me say that the point of giving credit is to say, clearly: "This is not mine. This is so-and-so's and here is where you can find him/her."
If you’re sharing an image on Instagram (or Facebook), you should do at least 2 things:
- Tag the creator in the description and tell your audience what that person is responsible for:
Examples: Source: @designer / Photo Credit: @photographer / Art by @artist
(Replace my examples with the real IG handle that links to their account.) Double-check that the link works! A misspelled handle is just as bad as not giving credit because people who see the image cannot go directly to the source.)
- Tag the creator wihin the image. (See below.)