How to Check If an Image is Copyrighted?

In the age of advanced information technology and the internet, we can access any kind of information we want. The information is not always textual but of are other varieties too. However, it is crucial to check for copyright whenever you access art or any intellectual property. Likewise, if you are using an image from the internet, make sure you know how to check if an image is copyrighted or not.

It is worth continuously checking the image for copyright, mainly when you use it to incorporate it into your own work. This way, you can avoid using copyrighted images without permission and, in a long way, prevent any sort of criminal offenses like infringement or theft.

If you are wondering but how do I know if an image is copyrighted on the internet, then this article is for you. In this piece, we will advise all you will need to know about a copyrighted image so you can have the most fundamental knowledge about this topic. You will also learn how to check copyrighted images and ways to avoid accidentally using copyrighted images.

What is a Copyrighted Image?

To understand what a copyrighted image is, you need first to understand what copyright is. Copyright is the legitimate right the creator of any innovation, such as any form of art or intellectual property, can claim for a number of years.

When an individual has a copyright claim on his work, no one can use or do anything with his work without exclusive permission.

Similarly, copyrighted image is a term used to categorize any photograph that the owner has the exclusive right to. To make it official, the owner of the image can legally claim copyright. When the artist copyright claims, his image cannot be displayed, plagiarized, sold, adapted, or made copies of for distribution. He has absolute claim over all these groups of rights that boil down to copyright.

Know General Signs of a Protected Image

You can know whether an image is protected or not merely with a glance through some of the general signs signifying a protected image.

  • If the image has a watermark, the easiest and most basic way an image is protected.
  • If the image consists of a copyright symbol.
  • If the image has an official copyright listing in the copyright office.
  • If the image comes with a note specifying copyright claim via ownership.

Research to determine if an Image is copyrighted

There are many ways you can ensure whether an image is copyrighted or not. You do not need to hire or even contact an official image copyright checker. Instead, you can simply determine by following the steps we discuss below and in the entire article.

In this section, we will plunge into the kind of research you can do in order to determine if an image is copyrighted or not.

  • You can go down to a Copyright office and request an official report regarding the image’s copyright. They are bound to have some record, and this will help you find a definite answer.
  • You can check the copyright status of an image at home through the reverse searching method. In this method, you will only have to right-click on the image and select the “copy image address.” Then you can either paste it on a reverse image search site or Google Images. As a result, you will find out the source of origin of the image and its previous usage.

Learn How the Court Evaluates Fair Use

You will have to learn and find out how the judge and the jury will react to your claim of fair use. There is no written stone law regarding this. More than often, the judge and jury come to a decision about fair use based on their personal morals of right and wrong. Thus, the final decision can be surprising and, at times, biased.

However, they do follow few steps to investigate and evaluate such cases. You can consider these steps in the form of questions such as:

  • How are you utilizing the image?
  • Does it increase or decrease the value of the owner’s work?
  • What is the nature of the image?
  • Whether the image is original or edited, or photoshopped to make some changes from the original image?
  • How important or influential is the copyrighted image in the market?

Just Ask!

Sometimes it can be challenging to figure out whether an image is copyrighted or not. For instance, you might not be able to find any general signs that indicate that the image is copyrighted, or you might not be able to find the records pertaining to the image’s copyright claims.

In such a situation, you can always find out who the owner is and contact them to seek permission to use their work. This is always a safe option as you will have direct permission from the owner and can use the image in whatever you want.

Identify the Copyright Owner

If you have come across a copyrighted image that you really would like to use for work or personal purposes, then you can do so by simply asking permission. But, of course, the first step to do that is to identify the owner of the image. Given below is a step-by-step guide on how to do identify the owner of a copyrighted image.

1. Look for an image credit or contact details

Often images, especially copyrighted images, come with notes from the owner. If there is no note, then there are supposed to be details about the owner. You can find the name and at least one contact detail about the owner either on the credit section or on the site where the image is published.

2. Look for a watermark

The easiest way to determine whether an image is copyrighted or not is to look for a watermark in the image. Most of the time, copyrighted images have a watermark that is a signature symbol of the owner.

3. Check the image’s metadata

You can also identify the owner of the image by checking the image’s metadata. The metadata of an image is the data or information of the image you will find in a textual form. All you will have to do is right-click on the image, go to properties, and then details. You will find all the info about the image and its production there.

4. If in doubt, don’t use it

Finally, if you are still not sure about who the owner is or have any doubt about an individual who claims to be the owner, then it is advisable that you do not use the image.

Final Thoughts

To sum it all up, if you collect pictures from the internet often for work or other purposes, then it is vital you make sure the pictures are not copyrighted and are available in the public domain. If you need to use a copyrighted image, take the owner’s permission and go through all the legal procedures before using the image.

If you do end up using a copyrighted image without permission, then it is a criminal offense. You will need to pay a fine and might face other consequences as a result. However, as the saying goes, “it is better to be safe than sorry,” thus, do not feel reluctant about going through the proper procedure of acquiring permission to use copyrighted images.

FAQ: How to check if an image is copyrighted?

Discussed below is a list of frequently asked questions on how to check if an image is copyrighted.

How to know if an image is in the public domain?

If an image is not copyrighted or its copyright date has expired, then it is considered to be in the public domain.

Is an image copyrighted?

Yes, an image can be copyrighted unless it has no copyright claims.

How to find out if an image is copyrighted?

You can find out if an image is copyrighted or not through the reverse searching method or by checking the records in the Copyright office.

How do I find an image without copyright?

There are thousands of photos out there that are not copyrighted. However, they are easier to find than you might think. You simply need to make a quick copyright check.

Are copyright claims wrong?

No, copyright claims are not wrong. It is wise to make copyright claims to avoid theft or plagiarism of your work.

How do I get permission to use copyrighted material?

You can get consent to use copyrighted materials by following the given steps.

  1. It would be best if you found out who the owner is.
  2. You can then contact the owner and talk to them about using their material.
  3. If payment is required, then you and the owner can negotiate about it.
  4. The final step is to get the acquired permission in writing on legal documents to avoid any misunderstanding in the future.

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