It is important to only use resources (audio, video, photos, copy, fonts, etc.) that you have a paid or free license for. There are so many options available for both paid and free these days, that there really isn’t a reasonable excuse for using stolen work. Not to mention the range of investment can hundreds of dollars per image down to mere pennies with a little research. You can even reach out to local photographers who are looking to build their portfolio and work out a mutually lucrative arrangement for custom work.
If you do use free work, consider donating a few dollars from time to time to those photographers you patron through online stock photo sharing sites. Someone did create that artwork and was generous enough to share it at no cost to you — even though you may directly or indirectly earn a return on it depending on your usage.
Artists shouldn’t have to starve or spend their time filing copyright infringement lawsuits. If you believe in what they do — and use their work — find it in your heart (and budget) to reciprocate the goodwill.
PLEASE NOTE: If you take an image from the internet (Google Images Search) without permission, you are stealing it. You didn’t pay for licensing to use that image, you don’t own the copyright, and you aren’t legally allowed to use it. You can be sued — and, no, ignorance is not an excuse. If the actual owner sees you using their work without license, they are within their full legal right to pursue you for monetary damages, retroactively, and to the fullest extent. It is best practice to not tempt fate in this manner.
Professionals do not steal, they negotiate.
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