I know it is done all the time, and when it comes to posting creative work online, stealing images can be difficult to combat. As a policy, I do not use images in my client’s designs that I do not have license to use or I require clients to provide their own “owned” or royalty free images for any work I create for them.
It may seem that if it is out on Google it is free for the taking. Just because one CAN right-copy-paste, doesn’t means one should. In order to protect ourselves we must also follow a code of ethics and not steal and profit off of another’s piece of work.
Why am I very particular about this? It’s all about my integrity. If I lax my policy for one, what does that say about my quality of work and my honesty? If I cannot value another artist’s work of art, I cannot value my own and my clients have no need to trust me in the future.
My favorite websites for graphics and images are iStockPhotos, VEER, HyperArt, VectorJunky, Fotolia and tons of others. I also have tons of licensed royalty free images I have collected over the years to use on my projects. I highly encourage all my clients to visit these sites for their images and graphics that they would like used on their website and design projects. I also suggest staying away from many of the over used images so well known out on the internet…one does want to be a bit different.
So my rule of thumb is if it is not your own graphic or image and you have not purchased a license to use a royalty free image/graphic, do not use it in the design work. Let’s all be honest, even if it does mean paying a little for the time and effort someone else has put forth.