Who Owns the Rights?

Have you ever gone to a meeting and had someone take credit for your work? Annoying, isn’t it? Ever have someone steal money from you? I bet you were not amused.

That’s why I want to talk to you about the C word. No, it’s not cookies or creativity or even me Catherine. It’s about respecting copyright.

It has become regular practice for many to publish images or text that aren’t theirs. It is not only illegal (and a personal pet peeve); it makes your training and presentations look unprofessional.

Places like Successories have wonderful inspirational posters and quotes, but I’m pretty much sure when most people use one of their professional images in your PowerPoint that they didn’t ask for permission.

Put your best foot forward for your learners, clients, and staff by remembering a few quick points.

* Just because I can find an image online through a tool like Google Images means the image exists. It doesn’t mean I’m allowed to use it.

* I’ve heard people say, “but this image is royalty-free.” Royalty-free does not mean free. It means someone paid a fee that usually gives him or her the right to use an image over and over.

* A license or usage fee gives someone the right to use text or images. It might be for one medium like a website or an all print materials, etc. Terms vary.

* All rights are reserved means someone owns the copyright. I put those words on all my handouts. Just because I distributed a handout in training doesn’t mean a participant has the right to teach, copy, or distribute my material.

* When you quote someone, use their name. Otherwise it looks as though you’re trying to look like it is yours. When quotations say authors unknown, that could be true or it could be that someone didn’t bother to look.

If you want to know more about copyright laws in Canada, check out this government link. For Americans, go here

There are websites that offer free images for free too. Where do you find your images? I’d love to know!


  1. Glen Munro on July 30, 2013 at 7:29 am

    Totally agree Catherine.

    I see comics used in presentations a LOT.
    Randy Glasbergen (google him. You have seen his work) has registered all of his stuff with the national copyright registry.

    He has a post on his site from another blog where someone took a photo they found online (not one of his) and it cost them $4000 after the owners lawyer got involved.

    Dilbert comics cost $100 for a single use.
    Glasbergen costs $25 or $15 in bulk.

    I have purchased rights for Randy’s work. When I see someone using his for free… I tell him. He deserves to be paid.

    My fave paid source for photos is shutterstock ($250 a month gets you 25 photos a day… Use em or lose em)

    For free images I use stockxchng or desktop wallpaper.
    I also use YouTube video. Under fair use, provided I am talking about the video for education purposes and not just… Ya know… Showing stuff

  2. Vatsala Shukla on July 31, 2013 at 5:35 am

    I use Public Domain pictures which are free but you need to give credit for the images used which I do and all is well. Of late, I have started creating my own images to match my blog post. What I find interesting and which is relevant in relation to the information that you have shared with us is that my analytics indicates that some visitors spend a lot of time trying to copy or download those images which are copyrighted as I have created them! Would it not be easier to write to the blogger and request a jpeg with credits to use on another website?

  3. Jennifer Kennedy on August 4, 2013 at 8:52 pm

    Much needed article, Catherine!

    I either by my images from iStockPhoto or I search the Creative Commons site for CC licensed images. I search specifically for the ones that require attribution and I can use commercially.

  4. Mike Gardner - The Time Doctor on August 26, 2013 at 1:49 pm

    Great reminder to all bloggers catherine. It is also a peave of mine, not just on images but also content, mainly because if someone wants to use my content, if they ask first they are welcome to.

  5. Alexandra McAllister on August 26, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    Thanks for the great reminder, Catherine! Some people not only “steal” pics but content as well. It is a shame. I buy photos usually but also use the “free” ones where we must give credit.

  6. MarVeena Meek (@PsychicMediumTX) on August 26, 2013 at 6:35 pm

    I buy pic’s from Shutter Stock. I don’t worry too much about people stealing content. I know that Karma always catches up in the end. I would gladly allow them to use my content with my credits too!

  7. Lisa Wells on August 26, 2013 at 8:24 pm

    I’ve been wondering where everyone is getting their images. It’s good to know this information.

  8. Savvy BIZ Solutions @NormaDoiron.NET on August 26, 2013 at 9:04 pm

    Would be great to have a list of free places to search for images or even places where they do not charge an arm and a leg. If you ever put one like that together, it would be AWESOME! 🙂

  9. Shelley Webb on August 27, 2013 at 10:09 pm

    Ah yes, one of my pet peeves. My free report lists 12 sites where you can find some great royalty – free images… some free and some that need to be purchased.

    And remember, just because you find an image on Google and give someone credit for it, doesn’t mean it’s right. That’s like stealing a pair of tennies and telling everyone where you got them.

  10. Robin Strohmaier on August 28, 2013 at 11:33 pm

    Excellent article, Catherine. This subject has been a thorn in my side, too. I purchase royalty-free images. Thank you for writing this and for shining the spotlight on this important issue.

  11. CAROLYN HUGHES on August 30, 2013 at 8:32 am

    I do try to credit my images and any that I use on my blog I always seek the written permission of the artist. It is the right thing to do and I know that I always appreciate it when people ask permission to use my work before they use it.
    A great message here Catherine!

  12. Pat Moon on August 31, 2013 at 4:09 pm

    Good article. Photos are just like music, they should not be copied or used without permission. I have 2 sons who have albums out.. they need to sell there albums and it is their choice if they want to give them to someone. Sheet music or written music is the same way. Thanks for writing about this.

  13. Sharon O'Day on August 31, 2013 at 11:30 pm

    I buy all my images. I originally used only iStockPhoto, then discovered Fotolia. They have many photographers in common, but I find Fotolia to be a little less expensive. (BTW, I know people who have used images from image houses such as Getty without permission and who have been hit with $4,000-5,000 invoices, no discussion. So it’s worth understanding what you’re doing when you use images.) Thanks, Catherine, for covering an important topic!

  14. Lorii Abela on September 5, 2013 at 3:32 am

    Nice post! It is just proper to ask permission if you want to use others’ images. Where can you buy the most affordable images?

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