How can I get maximum legal protection when using stock content?

Stock images are incredibly convenient for businesses that want to design content but don’t want to invest in a professional photographer. Stock photos, like those from Shutterstock, can be purchased and licensed for business use, and many businesses opt for enhanced legal protection to ensure there is no copyright infringement or problem with the licensing agreement. 
 
Terms You Should Know
While you have the option to work with an artist directly, larger sites like Shutterstock often offer enhanced legal protection and have already worked out the copyright information with the photographer or artist. Some legal terms you should know when searching for stock images include:

  • General liability and risk: risk and liability are low when you use a large stock photo company because they usually handle the copyright and legal issues if something slips through the cracks
  • Indemnity: protection from financial harm
  • Full indemnification: if you run into trouble when using a stock asset, the company you licensed from will cover all legal fees in your defense

Every company is different, and it’s important to review the licensing agreement for each one before purchasing any photos. You can view Shutterstock’s here.
 
Licensing Terms of Use
When it comes to buying licenses for stock photo images, there are different types that offer enhanced legal protection for businesses.

  • Single project: photo can be used one time, by one user
  • Single-seat: only one person can download the image to their computer
  • Multiple users: content able to be used by multiple users
  • Transferability: image can be transferred once, from a designer to client, for example
  • Editorial use: image is for non-commercial use only and can be used in magazines, newspapers or for other editorial uses

When choosing images for your business, one way to protect yourself legally is to always use stock photo sites like Shutterstock. Images that can be downloaded for free on obscure sites are often too good to be true. Never assume that royalty-free means no restrictions and be aware that all your clients have different needs. You may need to consider a different licensing agreement for different images, depending on what the image is being used for.

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