Once upon a time almost every designer asks himself: “Why should I buy images at stock photo agencies if I can find incredible number of images for absolutely free using Google?” Let's get into it!
“Available for Free” Doesn't Mean “Allowed for Using”
Let's suggest that you're a designer and you have to create some design for web-site of your client. You can do the following:
1. Go to Google.
2. Find suitable picture at some site.
3. Use it for free without paying attention to law restrictions.
4. Receive payment from client for your work.
At last you can spend earned money for purchasing new notebook or bike. Happy end?
Maybe, but not for sure. Within sometime you receive somewhat angry mail from copyright holder of the image you've used without any allowance.
This man requests rather big compensation for violation of copyright and this sum is much bigger than you've received for your work. Later the problem goes to the court and you have to sell not only the new laptop you've bought but also some other things of your own just to pay the compensation.
In the end you have no money, blemished reputation and client is furious of problem you've brought him. Great, yeah? And this is the most possible way. Just use the same Google to find stories like that.
Some may say that it's very hardly possible that design can be found by appropriate copyright holder cause there are millions of designs out there! And of course this makes sense but using this logic you take the path of some tiny criminal who steals a photo and hopes that no one will discover it.
By the way using modern information technologies for searching through Internet it's not very hard to discover such cheating.
Warranty of Legality
To get rid of such problems designer is better not to use “free” results of Google search but to buy licensed images at stock photo agencies. Ant it's not just an advert! One of the most important features you get using this way is legality of images you purchase. Stock photo agencies have all the rights from copyright holders to sell images for non-commercial or commercial use by designers.
So buying image at stock photo agency designer pays not only for image itself but also for complete legality.
If designer can't afford to buy images at macrostock photo agencies like Getty Images then he might use microstock photo agencies where he can buy one image just for $1 and maybe less (read more about microstocks).
Additional Protection for Designer
Stock photo agencies are providing additional features of law protection.
It's important to mention that besides rights of copyright holder image can contain information, which affects the rights of third parties (people or companies).
For example, if the image is the photograph of a woman then to use it commercially in billboard, web or polygraphic advert you have to possess not only the allowance of the photographer but also the allowance of the depicted woman.
Stock photo agencies have such allowance cause every image containing recognizable people faces is supported with document called model release signed by model.
It can be surprising but stock photo agencies are better than Google when we talk about searching for images. To find the suitable image using Google designer has to look through many different web-sites.
At the same time stock photo agencies provide the most convenient way to find suitable images very fast. Every image has proper keywords for searching (this is monitored by inspectors of web-sites). Also there are hand-picked thematic collections.
Below you can also see advantages of using licensed images from stock photo agencies in short video taken from Stockphotorights.com.
“legal keyboard” by zimmytws at iStockphoto.com.