Do The Research Before Posting A Photo From The Web On Facebook

Photos are the among the most engaging content on Facebook and the major motivator behind the site’s News Feed redesign. However, many people and pages don’t understand the rules on posting photos. Simply pulling pictures from Google searches and posting them on Facebook pages can get moderators in trouble, as Noelle Federico, chief financial officer of stock photo company Dreamstime, told AllFacebook.

Federico told AllFacebook that many people don’t understand fair use laws when it comes to photos, especially on Facebook. She said many users feel that if they can grab an image off Google, Flickr, or anywhere else on the Internet, it’s free to use. Quite often, that’s wrong.

While the fair use laws can be complex, Federico broke them down simply: If you’re using an image to comment on or criticize the topic in the photo, it’s fair to post it to Facebook. If you’re using the photo for financial gain or to grow your business’ engagement or likes on Facebook, it’s not good to go.

Federico talked with AllFacebook about how photos can be used:

If you are commenting on something and you’re pulling a storm image and you’re a news source, and you need an image to go along with it, and you cite the source, then they could try to bring an infringement claim against you, but you would have a good defense because you are merely commenting on the storm that they took a picture of. There’s no blanket where this is OK and this isn’t OK. It’s a case-by-case judgment.

However, although no blanket rule exists for photo use on social media sites, Federico said it’s usually best to err on the side of caution and not use photos if you haven’t contacted the rights holder or researched to see if it’s OK to use.

Federico said the best way to use a photo you find, if you don’t have a photo you or a member of your team has taken, is to simply reach out to the photographer and ask permission:

It’s about basic respect in the marketplace, which I think unfortunately, we’ve lost a lot of. I think because everybody’s so apt to post everything everywhere, everyone just figures, “Well, if they’ve posted it, they meant it for public consumption, so I’ll just pick it up and use it.”

So where can you legally obtain photos? The best way is to take photos yourself, but that’s not always possible or the best strategy if you don’t feel comfortable. ShortStack put together four ways that Facebook page administrators can find photos to use for free — including searching images under the Creative Commons license, where the photographer has released the image for use.

Federico said there are free and paid stock image services (such as her company, Dreamstime, and its free site, stockfreeimages.com) where social media managers can go. Additionally, many photos on Wikipedia have been approved for use. Through Google Image search, users can find publicly reusable photos to post.

Readers: How do you find photos to post to your Facebook page?

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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