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Will I get into trouble copying stuff from the Internet?

By 12 September 2012No Comments

Hang on there! Before you start using that lovely photo you found on Google images, or that paragraph on a web page which would sound great on your website, check out the copyrights and wrongs with ‘borrowing’ other people’s words and images. You don’t need to be a whiz at copyright law, but understanding the basics could save you a whole heap of trouble.

alien burgles the logo off of our website

The copyright facts

The golden rule of copyright is that pretty much everything you find on the Internet is probably copyrighted.

“But there’s no copyright symbol attached.” There doesn’t need to be.

Copyright protects books, paintings, photographs, drawings, films, music and many other creative mediums. Even if it doesn’t say it does.

Royalty free does not mean copyright free

Copyright free means just what it says – you can use the material to your hearts content (unless you’ve got a written agreement saying otherwise).

Royalty free means you just pay a one off fee to use the image according to set terms.

Watch out!

You could end up in trouble, out of pocket after paying hefty fines, or defending yourself in court – and if it doesn’t go in your favour, it could ruin your reputation and business. No one wants to be known as a copy cat.

It could seriously affect your SEO.

Search engines frown upon duplicated content. It stops your pages ranking well as they are not properly optimised for target keywords, and Google’s spiders won’t show similarly worded pages in search results. This ultimately makes it really tricky for your customer to find you.

So, check before you copy, right?!

What to do about it

Ask the creator

If you can track down the originator of the piece you’re wanting to copy, then you could always ask. This isn’t always that straightforward and could swallow up your precious time, when you could otherwise…


Tap into your creative side by adapting what you have read and seen to create your own unique style and in turn, avoiding all copyright issues.

Be original

If your budget allows, employ a photographer for your own unique prints. Employ a designer, or an artist… or a creative copywriter. If you can’t do it yourself – find someone who can.

Use the right websites

Plenty of websites offer copyright-free material that won’t get you into trouble!

Try visiting

Do it the honest way with British Design Experts and let us help you create your company logo and branding from scratch…no breaking the law required! Give us a call on 01256 845815 or email at [email protected]