Fair Use and Copyright


This is a great blog about a writer’s use of a copyrighted image. She didn’t even use it on a book cover or in promo! She used it in a tongue-in-cheek way that ended up costing her more that $7000!

I’ve read some posts about people wondering if they can use images they “found on the internet” or song lyrics. The answer is no! Unless you know for sure that the image is fair use (and you need to do your research to find out) don’t use it.

Take the time to read the post. It’s worth the read. http://jennytrout.com/?p=12536


I love Jenny Trout, she’s hilarious.


Poor thing had to pay big bucks!

And I like her too!


Edit: nevermind, I just got to the part where it was the photographer, though it made it seem like the billionaire did this


Yes! It happened to another writer too:

The lesson is clear: Not only can you be sued, you WILL lose. It doesn’t matter that you weren’t making money from it.


This one is so important.

  • Be sure that you actually understand what “fair use” is. Again, a lot of us don’t. Fair use doesn’t mean just not monetizing something or simply using it for internet fun. Do your research and if you’re in doubt…don’t use it. Or, buy a license. Take it from someone who had to endure almost a year of stress over this and who is now slowly crawling through old posts to remove any copyrighted images I had assumed I was using properly.

I see that argument mentioned all the time in a Wattpad context, and nope. You’re not allowed to use images that aren’t fair use or bought for anything. Because it’s not yours.


A few years ago I asked someone at Wattpad this very question. Can I use images off the internet within my chapters? I’m not even talking covers because I knew that was a huge NO. Her answer was very clear. She said an emphatic yes. I pressed her on that answer and then it changed to, “well, if it’s a link it’s okay.” I’m not even sure what that meant by that. I suppose if the image linked to the original source? I don’t even think it’s possible to do that.

Having been through a copyright issue at a place I worked at years ago, I knew she was wrong. I tried to explain it to her but I’m not sure she fully understood.

Let me stress that she’s no longer with Wattpad.

I can’t say loudly enough that unless you have a license to use an image, you’re treading in dangerous waters.

There are sites that offer free images that are legit and at least once a year AppSumo does a deal where you can buy 100 images for $40. It’s worth it rather than being chased by lawyers who don’t give up.


Not to mention, we as creators and artists should be better than this. A lot of us watched the whole CopyPasteCris thing go down in Romancelandia some weeks ago - and stealing images is no different. Just don’t nick other people’s stuff.

I definitely think there should be a lot more education on this stuff.


I couldn’t agree with you more. A lot of people think if they hit Google Images, it’s fair game. It would be great if Wattpad could dedicate something somewhere prominently to explain this is no joke. You can be sued and if you are sued, you’ll likely lose.


And Wattpad mentions in their ToS they’re not taking responsibility for what is uploaded. So if you’re caught stealing, you’re on your own.


Happened to the place I work at too and I was glad it did. I had been fighting them for years about using images found off google, but they’d never listen. They’d insist we take an image off google and use it. Well my coworker worked on our website re-design and did just that, took an image off google and used it on our website. It was as generic image as it gets and we probably could’ve EASILY found a similar one on a legit free stock site. But they just never listened to me.

Until they got a bill from Ghetty images to the tune of $700 along with a cease and desist use notice.

Thankfully after that they finally started listening to me. A couple of our clients got nabbed as well by using copyrighted images from Ghetty and Shutterstock, with the watermark, even after we sent out notice telling them to stop doing that.

There are peoples where their only job is to seek out copyright offenders. I don’t know if they just sit there doing a reverse image search all day or how they do it, but they do it and can and will find you. It’s just not worth the risk with todays legit free resources out there.


My issue though, I have no disagreement about not using others images without their permission. Where it gets prickly for me though, on other sites, you’ll have the same people encourage you not to hand draw your own image and use that as a cover.

You can’t have it both ways people, make up your mind. Hand drawn images has been an industry standard in Light Novels, … ever since light novels were even a thing.


If that’s standard in your genre then go for it. It’s not standard in other genres, and it’s considered unprofessional in those genres. The issue of hand-drawn or not is about first impression for readers. If they expect hand drawn, then by all means give them hand drawn.

Stealing an image from someone else is entirely different from the issue of professionalism.


I hand draw all of my covers and no one has ever discouraged me from doing so. :woman_shrugging:

Even if people did though, that wouldn’t grant me permission to steal images. Luckily it’s super easy to find free stock. So if people had a massive problem with my hand drawn covers, I could change them out with stock.


There are so many instances and examples of people getting into trouble for using images improperly. There are some shady photographers who have stock photos for purchase, but they upload them onto so many dummy sites that it ranks the image high on image searches, and unsuspecting people take that image without realizing what they’re doing. Then the same shady photogs have companies behind them that crawl the web for their copyrighted images just so they can sue.


Basically, if one uses images for covers they ought to be in the open domain or bought. However, the biggest risk is over people. If you use a photo of a celebrity then the risk is much higher than if you, say, use a photo of a bench in the shade.
The blogger in question stumbled over Steve Jobs I believe.
If you had posted Steve Blogs the chances would have been lower, but images of people still are - problematic.
I’ve got a couple of borderline ones I need to tackle with. When I went into the Wattpad paid programme I had to change the cover of the previous story as well.
Better be safe than sorry…


This is definitely a hot topic as of late. A photographer has been causing waves because authors have been using his photos on their covers on Wattpad.

I changed one of mine because I couldn’t remember where I got my one image from. I use canva for all mine now.


Have any of you heard of Pixabay.com? Photographers contribute photos that they don’t mind others using commercially, and they allow them to do so for free. There’s also an option to donate money in the amount of your choosing to photographers on the site.

I used one of the photos for my screenplay here on wattpad - and they’re gorgeous images on Pixabay! You guys should check them out. It looks as though professional photographers post images on there that they can’t seem to sell anywhere else. For example, they might only get a few good photos out of 100 or so from a photoshoot, so they sell the best ones and then post the others on sites like Pixabay. Go ahead and check them out.


Be careful with Pixabay. Anyone can upload photos up there, and there are photos that should NOT be there.