Read this before adding new images to your website!

mountainsLast year, a Web-Translations staff member uploaded a photo to a blog post which she found on an a public domain web gallery with what purported to be open license images. We thought nothing of this until a letter from Getty Images appeared in the post. The letter contained screenshots from our blog and stated that we owed them £600 for image theft.

We were shocked, to say the least, as we would never have uploaded the image to our blog if we had not believed it to be a royalty-free, non-copyrighted image. The image was immediately removed and we explained the situation to Getty Images. It seems, however, that even though we used the image in good faith, we were still at fault. We have had an iStock account since 2005 and have spent nearly £2,000 with Getty Images, but this didn’t help our case either.

A fine was paid, and we have learnt our lesson. We will try to use more of our own photos and drawings going forward, so we apologise in advance if some images are lacking in artistic merit!

Please don’t let this happen to you. If you have used a web designer who put images on your website, or if you found images in a “free” image gallery, you are still liable for them. The copyright owner can use the image’s metadata to track the image to your site and if you don’t hold a valid license, fine you. In our case, the image was uploaded over 10 months before Getty Images contacted us, so please don’t assume your site is fine simply because you haven’t been contacted.