Yes, darlings, it is some CYA (cover your ass) time!
For the past year, I've heard rumblings and you know those kind of "friends of friends of friends" urban myths about people using stock photos and then being threatened and/or sued for using the image. I could never verify the legitimacy to the tales, but they always struck a chord with me--perhaps because of the possibility of this cunning plan working. Regardless, it has made me cover my own ass when I use stock photos, and more importantly make sure my clients' asses are covered.
So, if you are not in the loop on this, it's time to get in.
The Story/Myth/Legend/Scam goes like this:
A photographer posts his/her image to a stock photo site and has the image listed as free for personal and commercial use with no attribution required. It's all clear to use is downloaded and used on various websites, social media, or what have you.
Months go by and the photographer removes the image from the original stock photo site and then goes on the hunt for those that have used it. The photographer then launches a cease/desist campaign or worse threatens payment / lawsuit etc. for illegal use of the copyright image to those who have used their image.
The person who downloaded the image and has used it is now in rather crappy position if they don't have proof that in fact the photo was downloaded and used under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) licence. They either stop using the image, pay for it, or worse continue to get threatening letters of copyright infractions. Talk about a curve ball, especially when the download/use of the image was legit.
And that is why having a bit of proof to cover your ass will help to get you out of hot water if the time comes.
Here's How to Cover Your Ass
Each and every time you download a stock photo, take a screenshot of it. Be sure to include the name of the stock site, the URL, the image itself and even the CC0 licence (which is on the side bar of some sites.) Keep those bad boys in a file.
In the example above, you can see the URL, you can see the CC0 licence to the right, which also states "free for personal and commercial use" and "no attribution required". And you can see the site it comes from (in the URL and the social media buttons on the sidebar.)
How I Cover My Clients' Assess
So if, one of those photographers ever come calling looking for a payout for copyright infringement, I have proof and so does my client that the photos were used according to the licence agreement.
It's a bit more leg work for you to provide this for your client, but hey, as the saying goes, Noah built the Ark before the rain!
WANT MY CREATIVE COMMONS CLIENT SWIPE FILE?
Send me an email. I'll hook you up.