If you've not paid for it, don't use it!
A recent case involving DKNY, the US fashion label, has reminded me of a common mistake I often see clients making; reproducing a photograph or other image without permission. Photographs and other artistic works are protected by copyright for 70 years after the death of the person that created them. If you use them without the prior approval of the copyright holder you may find yourself being pursued for breach of copyright.
Image theft is an ever increasing problem in today’s internet age. I often come across clients who have downloaded an image from the internet and used it on their own website or other marketing materials without realising they have done anything wrong until the copyright holder sends them a threatening letter asking for a significant sum of money. In the case involving DKNY, the fashion label found itself promising to donate $25,000 to a YMCA in Brooklyn when the photographer in question found that his images had been used in the company’s Bangkok store without his approval.
It is a problem that is easy to avoid. There are a number of online service providers that sell royalty free photographs and illustrations at a relatively low cost. Use one of these resources if you are unable to produce or commission your own images. It could save you a huge amount of money in the long run!