Is it appropriate to use other people’s images in your own work? As the image above suggests this presents something of a dilemma.

On one hand, it is morally wrong to use the work of others without permission that is quite a clear cut in my own mind if I think about my own work I would be quite outraged if someone used my work without asking first especially if they made a profit out of doing so. This seems to me to be quite clear-cut, but what if there is no clue who made the work, well still clear cut to me it’s still someone else’s work.

On the other hand compositing images is fun I do it a lot, I have been known to need an element for an image like a pair of lips or a dragons eye, which I don’t have in my own images, what do I do then? Well if it is just me playing I might get it from a google image search, but not for a commercial piece of work, in that case I would have to seek permission from the owner or use an image service like Getty or Alamay or use one of the ever-growing resources like deviant art where you can get free and purchasable resources.

I truly believe that this kind of artwork is justifiable and valid but I also think that as a working professional photographer we have to respect the IPR of our fellow practitioners. It is worth looking at this youtube broadcast from Tony and Chelsea Northrup who sued an Australian company for using one of their images.

The offending company ended up paying $60,000 but the Northrups ended up being paid $7,543.48 the rest went to the lawyers the whole process took something like 3 years and demonstrates what a minefield this subject is. It will cost you if you are caught stealing images but don’t expect to be well compensated for having your image stolen after all in the end as the saying goes its only the lawyers that win.