In our current world of online transparency where "everyone" has a website, blog, and social media, you need to protect yourself in an unlikely place -- stock photography.
Just because an image is on the internet does NOT mean you have the privilege of using it. Videos and photos may not be free or free to use. Cover Your Assets.
Scary Story From My Past
During my BRIGHT IDEAS days, I used several freelance designers. My go-to designer developed hundreds for products for me.
Fast forward several years. One of my clients, for whom we built a website, receives an overnight package from a company in Canada advising he owes them $12,000 for using stock photography on his website without paying for it. Clients calls me.
My research shows this company IS real, albeit not very reputable. Their business model is buying royalty-free photographers' work, then searching the web for who is using it to charge them non-royalty-free prices if they can't prove they paid for it as royalty-free.
No worries. I have an invoice from the designer for the stock images he purchased on our behalf. One call to him will show the receipt info and we will be fine.
I call my former designer but... [insert sob story here]. Fell on hard times. Threw away all records when he closed the business last year. Can't remember is passwords to access former royalty-free site. Yada yada yada.
Bottom line. Attorney recommends I settle with the Canadian company for five thousand dollars later (plus attorney costs). My client is happy. I am kicking myself.
Cover Your Ass(ets)
Truly FREE Images
There are some very nice and truly free sites online. Every image used on this website came from pexels.com and is completely free. (Although I do make a non-required donations to some of the photographers I use frequently).
AND, I download each image into a separate folder on my computer with the pexel.com download date and photo number...just in case.