Imagine you come into the office one spring day and find a letter on your desk from an attorney. The letter claims you are using his client’s photograph on your website without permission—either pay several thousand dollars or risk a six-figure lawsuit.
Is the claim is legitimate? Your website may have hundreds of pictures, the majority of which came from a manufacturer’s website or from the website of the architect and/or builder involved with the project, who gave you permission to use them.
But, even if you have the manufacturer or builder’s permission to use an image, the photographer may claim money because she didn’t specifically give you the rights to use the image. This happens a lot more than you might realize, many thanks to companies like TinEye that have developed technologies that allow photographers to instantly find all the places online where their photographs have been published.
While I can’t provide legal advice on how to handle these claims, I can give you a basic strategy that not only helps avoid these situations, but also results in higher Google rankings through the use of images.
It’s simple: hire photographers yourself to take pictures of all your projects. Your contract with the photographer should state that you own the rights to the photos and can do whatever you want with them—including share them with others involved with the project. Lawyers call it “work for hire.” If you hire the photographer to take specific photographs, the work belongs to you. But you have to put it in the agreement.
Post-project, you can email every company involved with the project and offer them the ability to use your photographs as long as they reference and link back to your website. Keep a copy of the contract you have with the photographer in case the photographer later decides to start harassing the companies you granted permission to use your photos.
Window and door companies often spend considerable sums on advertising and marketing to generate qualified leads and sales. This is a form of truly organic marketing. Each of your images published to a partner website becomes the equivalent of a marketing annuity generating traffic, leads and sales for years to come.
Have you found yourself in a legal situation over photos? Do you hire a photographer for your projects? Post a comment, review this week’s poll or drop a line to share your thoughts.
We have some of our own pictures, but also use those from our partners.
We only use other companies' images, with permission.
We contract with a photographer for all images we use.
We copy images from partners' websites; not sure if we have permission to use them.