In the summer of 2015, the nonprofit division of Venable law published “Busted: Nonprofits Will Have to Pay the Photography Piper.”
The article itself is short and worth reading, but here’s the synopsis.
For many years, nonprofits have pulled images from the internet and used them in their publications or websites.
Until recently, software didn’t exist to make it easy for photographers and their agents to track down these copyrighted images. Now the software exists, and nonprofits are getting busted for using images without proper payment to the photographer.
Venable has been working with its clients that have received bills, which usually total in the few hundreds of dollars per image.
I can relate. I myself have had to pay the piper about $800 when I used an illegally sourced image from Getty.
About 6 years ago I launched a training product with the help of my then virtual assistant. She had several contractors working for her, and one sub-contractor was assembling the sales page for the product.
The images used on the page were supposed to be placeholders. She’d quickly grabbed images from the internet to give me an idea of what the mood of the photo would be. One was a happy woman shouting.
Before the launch, all the images were replaced with properly sourced (i.e. “paid for”) images — or so I thought. One was overlooked.
About three years after the product launch, I got a stern legal letter from Getty Images, accompanied by a bill for ~$800.
A wedding planner colleague of mine in Georgia shared a similar story. In her case, one of her interns had pulled an image for use in social media. She, too, was sent a bill from Getty for about the same amount.
And in an even more high-profile case, this January the White House team got busted. To presumably show the 2017 inauguration crowds, the newly formed White House staff used a Getty photo from the 2009 inauguration. It appeared as a Twitter banner photo for about four hours — with the Getty copyright information still intact — before it was identified and removed.
This made me think of instances where Auction Chairs use images.
- Emails advertising the fundraiser or specific items
- Online auctions
- Onsite displays for silent auction items
- Onsite displays for live auction items
- Slideshow images during the event
Here are my 5 best free stock photography sites for gala auction planners.
This is where you can secure legal images to use in your fundraising auctions.
To compare sites, I opted to test them using the same search term. Last year at a benefit auction I sold a stay in Pamplona, Spain, perhaps best known for its running of the bulls event. The word I used to test each site’s functionality was “bulls.” See results below.
1. MorgueFile https://morguefile.com/
Large photo collection and easy search functionality. Click on each photo to read terms.
Search test: MorgueFile presented me several free images of bulls to use when I typed “bulls” into the search bar. The images were of more like a typical bull on a farm. If I put “running of the bulls” into the search function, MorgueFile redirected to display several photos on iStock that I could buy, ranging from $12 to $33. These were elegant bulls and matadors.
2. Pixabay http://pixabay.com/en
It has a search functionality and beautiful quality photos. See nice shots of anything from wine tastings to the scenery of Yellowstone.
Search test:”Bulls” produced a wide range of bulls, from illustrations and team mascots to yaks and walruses. There were 11 pages of images to peruse.
3. Pexels www.pexels.com
This site consolidates stock photography from other sites. The usage terms of each photo are available when you click on the photo.
Search test: A wide range of bull images appeared — pit bulls, Wall Street bull, cow bulls, and more. For a true Matador-style bull, I was redirected to Shutterstock to buy an image.
4. Wikimedia Commons http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/main_page
Did a celebrity donate something to your auction? Use this site to find a free image of a famous person.
Search test: Appropriate images were found, though the site doesn’t make it as easy to sort images as the other sites do.
5. Stocksnap https://stocksnap.io/
Easy search functionality.
Search test: Not impressive. Only 2 “bulls” photos appeared — and they were both a game of darts showing a bulls eye.
Do you have a favorite place to secure photos that I’ve not shared? Add your site below.