Have you ever found an image online and thought to yourself, “this would be perfect for my small business website or social media page?” Then you right-clicked and saved it without a second thought? It’s a trap! What you may not realize is that right-clicking and saving an image from the internet is stealing. And as a small business owner, stealing images can be costly.

First of all, let’s define what we mean by “stealing” in this context. When we say “stealing,” we’re referring to the act of using an image without permission from the owner or without properly licensing it. Even if you’re not using the image for commercial purposes, it’s still illegal to use someone else’s work without their permission.

Here are a few reasons why small business owners should avoid stealing images online:

It’s illegal

As we mentioned earlier, using someone else’s image without their permission is illegal. The owner of the image has the exclusive right to use, reproduce, and distribute their work. By taking and using their work without their consent, you’re infringing on their legal rights. This can result in legal action being taken against you, and the cost of hiring a lawyer to defend yourself can be astronomical.

It’s unethical

In addition to being illegal, stealing images online is also unethical. Just because something is easy to do, doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do. When you steal someone else’s work, you’re taking away from the time, effort, and creativity they put into creating it. It’s disrespectful to the artist or photographer who created the image and can damage your reputation as a business owner.

It’s unprofessional

As a small business owner, your online presence is crucial to your success. Your website, social media pages, and marketing materials should reflect your brand and professionalism. Using stolen images can make your business appear unprofessional, untrustworthy, and cheap. You want your customers to trust and respect you, not question your integrity.

It’s risky

Using stolen images can also be risky. You never know who the original owner is or if they will take legal action against you. In some cases, they may simply ask you to remove the image, but in others, they may sue you for damages. This can result in costly fines and legal fees that can damage your business financially.

So, what can you do instead of stealing images online?

  1. Create your own content

Creating your own content is the best way to ensure that you have legal ownership of the images you use. Take your own photographs, create your own graphics, or hire a professional to do it for you. This way, you’ll have complete control over how your brand is represented online.

  1. Use stock images

Stock images are another option for small business owners who need high-quality images for their marketing materials. There are many websites that offer affordable or even free stock images that can be used legally. Just make sure to read the licensing agreement carefully to ensure you’re using the image within the terms of the agreement.

  1. Hire a professional

If you want your marketing materials to stand out, consider hiring a professional photographer or graphic designer. A professional will work with you to create unique, high-quality images that accurately reflect your brand. While this option may be more expensive than using stock images, the investment can be worth it in the long run.

In conclusion, stealing images online is not only illegal, but it’s also unethical, unprofessional, and risky. As a small business owner, it’s important to protect your reputation and respect the legal rights of others. By creating your own content, using stock images, or hiring a professional, you can ensure that your online presence accurately reflects your brand and sets you up for long-term success.

Connect with the team at ITG to get your project started today!

About the Author

Tina getting a closer look with a magnifying glass

Tina Kempling, the Lean Green Team Leader at Imagine That with over 35 years of experience in the print industry, newspaper and magazine advertising.

As an industry-certified designer since 1991, Tina knows her stuff when it comes to marketing vision. But what sets her apart is her understanding of advertising and marketing in today’s digital and print market. She can help companies tap into the incredible marketing power in new and creative ways. Ready to take your marketing game to the next level? Give Tina a shout!