Social Media for Direct Sales Speaker and Author | (707) 939-5709

Resources to Help You Avoid Litigation When Posting Images in Social Media

There is no denying it, sharing pictures on social media is where it’s at. It is what the youth are gravitating to, and it is what adults spend the most time enjoying on social media. In a recent article on Fast Company, renowned social media expert Ekaterina Walter summarizes this trend by saying, “Brands that can rock visual media will find themselves market leaders.” This is true. It is already happening. Pictures get more response because they make your brand more interesting and human. When your social media posts get greater response (likes, comments, shares) you rise to the top.

With this trend though, comes risk. Copyright infringement. And today, especially as a direct selling company or top leader, it is critical to play by the rules, respect intellectual property law, copyrights and trademarks, and set an example for those who follow you. Often people think that because they found an image on the web that it is in the “public domain” and can be shared at will. This is not true. The original creator and publisher of each item on the web owns its copyright and you may not repost without permission.

© eldeiv -

I am not an attorney but I have read enough articles by experts to know that intellectual property laws are being broken every second online. And as awareness grows, lawsuits will become more prevalent. I heard recently of one company who was sued for 30 counts of violating copyright by using photos from an actual photo directory site. They thought that by simply linking back to the original post that they would be covered. Not so. In the terms of the site it stated that the site was a gallery site, and the photos were not to be used for commercial purposes. Oops.

Following are some articles to help you and your company navigate the risks, rights and responsibilities of using images in social media. I also have a list of resources to help you use images legally that will avoid litigation.

One of the best suggestions I’ve seen is to simply hire a photographer to take your company’s own custom stock photos. Commercial photographer Alina Vincent explains here. She does this for companies.


Understanding Copyright/Intellectual Property with Regard to Social Media:

Article: Intellectual property attorney explains copyright and public domain when posting on social media

Article: Copyright Issues with Social Media by LegalZoom

Article: How Using Google Images Can Cost You $8,000

Resources for Purchasing “Royalty-Free” Images (legal to use in marketing – but read the Terms/licensing info!)

Fotolia – Royalty Free Images, Vectors and Videos (my personal favorite – that’s my affiliate link)

DepositPhotos (another favorite/affiliate link!)

Pixabay – All FREE Images Published Under Creative Commons CC0

iStock by Getty Images – Royalty Free Photos, Illustration, Videos, and Audios (read about their Legal Guarantee also)

List of Affordable and Legal Graphics and Photos for Blogging – Another blog post I wrote a while back.

Free Hubspot Image Downloads (you must opt in to their email correspondence – but it’s worth it!)

Holiday Stock Photos

Business Related Stock Photos 

Misc Stock Photos

Do you have other resources to share? Please leave the links in the comment area below.

Share this post:


  1. Debbie Peck on November 19, 2013 at 10:16 am

    Great article, Karen! I actually know someone that was hit by a huge bill for using images incorrectly.

  2. shahida begum on December 14, 2013 at 4:07 am

    Following are some articles to help you and your company navigate the risks, rights and responsibilities of using images in social media. I also have a list of resources to help you

  3. Michael on December 17, 2013 at 8:35 am

    And from the other side, photographers can contract with expert copyright lawyers like Ed Greenberg to seek recourse from those who infringe on their clients intellectual properties (photos…)

    • Karen Clark
      Follow me on Twitter: mybizpresence
      on December 17, 2013 at 9:41 am

      Great Michael – Thanks for the referral!

  4. Rob on February 21, 2014 at 9:35 pm

    We use Flickr under Creative Commons licensing for 80% of our images. In addition the Library of Congress has images that may be used here with rights explained here

    • Karen Clark
      Follow me on Twitter: mybizpresence
      on February 24, 2014 at 5:23 pm

      Perfect! Thanks for adding another valuable resource!

Leave a Comment