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How to Ace Getting B-roll for your Projects

Even experienced content creators can be surprised by how easy it is to accidentally use illegal B-roll and stock photos. In a profession where people so often experience having their work stolen, it can be especially bitter to unwittingly engage in that exact same behavior. And even if you can deal with that bitterness, the potential demand for compensation can be just as tough a pill to swallow. Have no fear, though! CatchScan is not only here to protect your work against copyright infringement; we are also ready to protect you from committing infringements, yourself. In this article, we’ll go through how to best ensure that the B-roll and stock photos you add to your work are legal to use.

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The biggest don’t: taking images from google image searches

Getting stock photos from google image search is so easy; type in a few keywords regarding what you are looking for and one or two clicks later you have exactly what you need. The fact that it is so easy is precisely why so many people get their B-roll this way. It is unfortunately also illegal in ca. 85% of all cases.

To be perfectly clear: you never actually get a picture from google image search itself. The search function scours the internet that matches the description you typed in and links you to the pages where those images can be found. So you may have found a picture through google but that might have been uploaded to a site such as  Deviantart or Artstation – and those images are likely owned by a copyright holder.

In brief: Unless you reach out and get permission from the creator/owner of the copyright (they are usually the same person), don’t ever, under any circumstances, ever, in a million years, →ever← just use images you found through google. Always remember: saying that you didn’t know it was illegal is not a viable defense. That fact is exactly what grants you certain rights for compensation even if someone accidentally steals your work, but the sword cuts both ways.

Okay, but then how do you get legal B-roll?

There are a couple of things you can do to better ensure your B-roll and stock images are legal to use. Generally speaking, you should get your material from sites that operate by offering stock images and B-roll. These usually operate in one of three business models: paid subscription, pay pr. Image, and free (and thereby relying on advertisements on the site). There is a decent chance you got transfixed on the “free” option, there. The drawback with the free sites is that they usually don’t vet the images that are uploaded and who uploads them. What does that mean? In essence, someone who doesn’t own the copyright could upload an image, then you use it, and, a few months down the line, the real copyright holder comes asking for compensation. You could claim that you didn’t know, but, again: saying that you didn’t know it was illegal is not a viable defense. This is exactly why CatchScan can protect you when someone else uploads your content.

The benefit of using sites that require payment is that they usually have the funds to vet the material uploaded, so that their users are guaranteed that the material is legal to use. If you want to make extra sure, check what means your chosen stock image site uses to vet their material. And, as a rule of thumb, if they allow user uploads, they are typically a risky choice; many people try to make a quick buck by effectively selling someone else’s hard work.

At the end of the day, the responsibility falls on you to make sure your stock images and B-roll are legal to use.

Have you experienced someone uploading your work to a stock image site or elsewhere? Are you worried it might happen? Create a free CatchScan profile and learn where your content has been uploaded and learn who is using it. We are also ready to help you with compensation, if you find illegal use of your work.

Christian Bredvig Fjordside
Christian Bredvig Fjordside
Christian Bredvig Fjordside is CatchScan's communications consultant. His job is to talk to the legal department and translate the law jargon into what we fellow mortals refer to as "English".
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