Copyright and how it affects image usage

Copyright law is a cause for concern for many businesses, so we thought we would try and give you the highlights and draw your attention to the pitfalls. The law itself is very complex, so should you have a specific query, you should seek expert advice.

Copyright is a key protection for your work in whatever form it takes, allowing others to use it only with your express permission. This is an automatic protection, so no need to register or even the requirement to display © within your work.

In 2014, in light of the easy accessibility of resources and media online, the law changed to offer greater protection to the creator of such works.

What is covered under copyright as detailed on

  • Original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic work, including illustrations and photography
  • Original non-literary written work, such as software, web content and databases
  • Sound and music recordings
  • Film and television recordings
  • Broadcasts
  • The layout of published editions of written, dramatic and musical works.

The law states that anyone other than the creator cannot copy, distribute copies (free or otherwise), rent, lend, perform, make an adaptation or put on the internet without prior permission. However, the UK law only protects you here and not abroad. There are international agreements in place which offer protection but advice should be sought.

Although copyright protection begins as soon as the work is created, there are limitations on how long it lasts depending on the type of work.

E.g. written media is 70 years after the authors’ death, and sound and music recordings 70 years from first release. Once copyright has expired, anybody is entitled to use or copy the work.

The area that gives most concern is the use of photography. DO NOT take/copy images from the internet and assume that because they are in the public domain that it is ok for you to use them in your own material. It isn’t!

Many photographers licence their images via a collecting society, so you can seek permission and pay a royalty to use their imagery fairly simply. But there is also the option of using ROYALTY FREE images online. Many online libraries have royalty free images but they don’t always make them easy to find. Try Pixabay ( as they provide a vast range of free images.

Our advice is to always be very mindful of where you source your images and do not ever assume that they are free to use.


Further information on copyright and the law is available from these sites:


About nicolepinpointmarketing

Nicole is a mum to two, wife to one and friend to many. I am also the owner of a successful marketing consultancy business, established in 2008 to work with, help and support local businesses. Pinpoint can act as a consultant or we can hold your hand to manage your marketing or we can do it all for you! Your marketing, your budget, your way. Marketing, organisation, helping and caring are my strong points and passions!
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