You are creating content for your social media, perhaps you’ve written a new blog and need an image to accompany it, maybe you are promoting a new product and want some images to promotional purposes. Raise your hand if you are guilt of just googling images and grabbing what you find. Or if not Google, maybe from Pinterest. Did you know you could be potentially breaking copyright law? 


You created an image and someone came along and used it without your permission. Say they were lucky enough to make millions of dollars because people resonated with the image that was selling their product. You’d be annoyed if you created the image and got no return on it and others benefited from it. Right? 

Creative people are always inspiring us with the new and amazing thing they’re creating. Images are created by artist, whether they’re photographers or graphic designers. This is their talent. Sometimes images are designed specifically for a client job.  

What is copyright? 

The Australian Copyright Council   provide a great introduction to Copyright in Australia. The following are some extracts from the document. 

“Copyright provides creators with an incentive to create new works and a legal framework for the control of their creations.” 

What does copyright protect? 

Copyright protects: 

• textual material (“literary works”) such as journal articles, novels, screenplays, poems, song lyrics and reports; 

• computer programs (a sub-category of “literary works”); 

• compilations (another sub-category of “literary works”) such as anthologies – the selection and arrangement of material may be protected separately from the individual items contained in the compilation; 

• artistic works such as paintings, drawings, cartoons, sculpture, craft work, architectural plans, buildings, photographs, maps and plans; 

• dramatic works such as choreography, screenplays, plays and mime pieces; 

• musical works: that is, the music itself, separately from any lyrics or recording; 

• cinematograph films: the visual images and sounds in a film, video or DVD are protected separately from any copyright in works recorded on the film or video, such as scripts and music; 

• sound recordings: the particular recording itself is protected by copyright, in addition to, for example, the music or story that is recorded; 

• broadcasts: TV and radio broadcasters have a copyright in their broadcasts, which is separate from the copyright in the films, music and other material which they broadcast; and 

• published editions: publishers have copyright in their typographical arrangements, which is separate from the copyright in works reproduced in the edition (such as poems or illustrations or music). 

Something that is a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work for copyright purposes will be protected if it is original. In copyright terms, it’s not hard for something to be original: it means that the work isn’t a mere copy, a requisite level of skill and effort has been exercised in its creation, and it has been created by a human author. 

What is not protected by copyright? 

Copyright does not protect 

  • ideas, concepts, styles, techniques or information
  • Names, titles and slogans
  • People and people’s images (images of their face or body) 

Copyright protection is automatic 

Copyright protection is free and automatic from the time a work is first written down or recorded in some way. You do not apply for copyright in Australia, and there is no system of registration here. Nor are there any forms to fill in or fees to be paid. 

You do not need to publish your work, put a copyright notice on it, or do anything else before your work is covered by copyright. For example, as soon as a poem is written, or a song is recorded, it is protected. 

As outlined above, 

• artistic works such as paintings, drawings, cartoons, sculpture, craft work, architectural plans, buildings, photographs, maps and plans; 

This is the key reason why you DO NOT just take images from Google or Pinterest and use them on your social media or website. YOU ARE BREACHING COPYRIGHT LAWS!!!  It means the owner of the images can take things to a legal level against you. 

There websites that allow you to use their images for commercial use for free. Here are some you can check out:

It is ALWAYS important you read the terms and conditions on any websites you are take images from. 

If you are not sure of where you stand in terms of someone stealing your creative work, always consult a lawyer. 

As business owners, it is important that when hiring staff to create social media, blogs etc for you, that they have an understanding of copyright laws, otherwise they place you at risk.