5 Misunderstandings About Using Photos When Self-Publishing

One of the most confusing areas of publishing for self-published authors is copyrights. Many authors aren’t familiar with or misunderstand copyright laws — especially when it comes to using photos in their books or on their covers. Here are five of the most common misunderstandings.

1. “Download Free Photos” Sites

Many authors misunderstand the “download free photos” sites.  Most of these sites only allow the images to be used for blogs, websites, and other personal applications; not for publication.  Also, since these images are designed primarily for use on a computer, they are typically very low resolution and not suitable for printed publication.

2. Wikipedia Photos

Contrary to popular belief, it is not permissible to publish all photos downloaded from Wikipedia.  The author needs to look closely at the annotation on the page where they found the image to see the requirements.  Some will require the author to obtain permission from the copyright holder.

3. Limitations

Some copyright holders will sell the right to publish their image, but their permission may have limitations on the number of copies or length of time.  Many self-publishing companies will not accept a limited authorization.  Authors should check with their publisher before purchasing any such rights to publish
an image.

4. The Copyright Holder

Just because a photo is in your possession doesn’t mean you have the right to publish it.  The copyright holder is considered to be the person who took the photo. Therefore, the original photographer is the one who must grant authorization to publish the image.

5. Subjects in Photos

Despite my previous point, just because you took the photo doesn’t necessarily mean you have the right to publish the photo.  If there are people in the photo, then the author should obtain a photo release from the subjects.

I’d love to know what questions you have about photo copyrights. Please comment below.

ABOUT JODEE THAYER: With over 25 years of experience in sales and management, Jodee Thayer works as the Director of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable customer service reps, publishing consultants and marketing professionals; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process in order to help them publish the book of their dreams and on assisting authors with marketing and promoting their book once published. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Jodee Thayer can put you on the right path.

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