Copyright is a concept that protects all creative works. While it may be frustrating to navigate when trying to find images for your social media posts, keep in mind that it benefits you too. The same copyright laws that protect someone’s rights to their images protect your rights to all the content you create and share online.
Although the legal definition of copyright may vary slightly by country, the basic premise is who owns creative works and how those works can be used.

Therefore, if you created an original artistic or written work, you own the exclusive rights to it, even if you never registered it with a copyright office or other official body. By the same token, if you use a photo or illustration created by someone else -without their express permission – you may be in breach of their copyright. This applies to all images posted that are in the public domain, including on social media platforms and websites.

Social Media Shares, Lifts & Borrows

It is well documented that photos increase social engagement substantially. On Facebook and Twitter, posts with photos generate more likes and comments. The challenge facing plastic surgery practices is how to get real images from patients, or in the alternative, find good images that are shareable.

The natural inclination may be to go to Google, type in “filler injections” and search for IMAGES. That would be a huge mistake. Here’s why. Images on Google are not yours to pick off. Notice that most images you scroll through have the ubiquitous disclaimer “Image may be subject to copyright.” Therefore, you can’t just lift any old image off the web and use it for your own. Sure, you may get away with it for an occasional lecture or a short presentation at a patient seminar. But that may also be risky.

What You Need To Know Before You Borrow An Image You Don’t Really Own

You can search online for images, which is the natural inclination we all have to save time, but there are big risks with that strategy because images may be subject to copyright. A bundle of intangible rights granted by statute to the author or originator of certain literary or artistic productions, whereby, for a limited period, the exclusive privilege is given to that person (or to any party to whom he or she transfers ownership) to make copies of it for publication or to sell it.

Copyright owners have the right to control the reproduction of their work, including the right to receive payment for that reproduction. An author may grant or sell those rights to others, including publishers or recording companies. Violation of a copyright is called infringement. Copyrights are like patents and trademarks. These are all examples of what is called Intellectual Property in legalese. Copyright protects the expression of an original idea.
Think before you download or screenshot that perfect image. You would be better served to first search online, identify some images you may want to use, and then take the next step to find out where they originated from. In some cases, you may find that the images are free to use or can be licensed for a nominal fee for the purpose you have in mind.