Can You Legally Use That Image? Know Your Rights!

Content. It is everywhere. With the internet, we consume it daily. From the news articles and bulletins on our mobile devices to the entertainment content of movies and TV shows, and the music we listen to, all the way to the images we see online

Most images and videos hosted on the web belong to content vendors. As a consumer, using such content without understanding the regulations behind them is like dancing in a pickle jar. One wrong move, and you could find yourself burdened with a copyright lawsuit.

This blog offers some actionable insights to remember when debating whether to use images and video from content vendors on the internet. Read on Below:

Are You Licensed to Use the Image?

Licenses are like wardens. They are there to watch over how the content is used. They dictate when and where to use the images and videos and restrict usage in certain situations.

Therefore, read through the license before using any image or video you find online. Don’t just skim through the document (most people do). Read and understand it.

With all that has been said, you may ask yourself: what sort of license do you get after purchasing the specific content? Is it a rights-managed or a royalty-free license?

Rights-Managed Licenses

Rights-managed licenses grant you the right to use the content in a particular way. While most licenses are set in stone, these are customizable. You specify exactly how you intend to use the content, like your location, duration of use, and media type. Afterward, the vendor generates the total cost.

You can pay extra for exclusivity, preventing others from using the same image or video. And when you want to use the same content for a new purpose, you will likely have to negotiate a new license agreement.

Rights-managed licenses are ideal for large campaigns and projects where control over the specific content is essential.

Royalty-Free Licenses

On the other hand, royalty-free licenses are far more flexible. They grant you the right to use the content whichever way without paying additional fees.

It is essential to know that the term ‘free’ in this context does not mean that the content is free to use, but rather, you are free from ongoing royalty payments, as is the case with rights-managed licenses.

For images under free-use licenses, you only need to pay a one-time fee depending on the size and resolution of the image and video. However, such photos are non-exclusive, meaning the vendor can sell them to multiple customers.

Despite being free, such content is still distributed under specific restrictions. For instance, you cannot use it as part of a trademark or logo or resell the same content as standalone pieces. In brief, royalty-free images and videos are ideal if you need content for multiple projects, and exclusivity is a non-issue.

Understand the Terms of Service Agreement

Scroll to the bottom of the page and hit accept- that’s what most of us do when presented with a terms of service document. This habit is dangerous, especially in the context of images and videos from content vendors.


The terms of service agreement will guide you on exactly how you can use the content. It will dictate the restrictions, if any, such as prohibitions in specific industries and contexts.

The agreement will also inform you whether you must credit the creator/vendor. If this is a requirement, the contract will guide you on exactly how to make the attribution.

Finally, under this crucial document, you will find indemnification and liability information should you be sued for copyright infringement.


So, dear readers, know the ropes before you set sail. Understand the licensing and terms of service before using an image or video from an online content vendor. Pack your brain with the know-how. It's your secret GPS against slip-ups that can cost you.

If you're facing any of the issues mentioned above, don't hesitate to contact us at or call (732) 410-7595 for assistance.

Categories: Copyright Law