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Tips How Not to Break the Law When Selling Online

It’s super easy to do, and all of us have done it at least once: selling online using sites like eBay and Amazon we like to get rid of our old items. We want to get a bit of buck for those old jeans, phones and whatnot. And sure, there’s no problem doing this but what if we told you, you could be breaking the law when creating or using product images to sell your old riffraff online.

It all comes down to the product image. Some of us, feeling creative, brave the lens and try to create our own images as we forever fight with bad lighting, and others, take the simpler option and just find professional stock images, which are usually ready to hand online. But have you ever thought about if the jeans you’re photographing might be copyrighted or when finding an image online, who owns that image, whose copyright do I have to respect.

Copytrack fights for photographers’ rights. We want to ensure their images are being used online, with a valid licence, and that the photographers gets a little coin in his pocket when their image is used. We have dealt with endless claims where the image user had no idea they were abusing someone’s copyright by using this image. Listen up and pay close attention, Copytrack will list the five most important things to do when selling your stuff online, to make sure you don’t become a criminal of the law.

Search and found: using search engines

Using Google images, and other search engines, is perhaps the easiest way to find images online. They’re there, easy to download, a large selection, and we all love a free shop. But that’s the problem here, this isn’t a free shop. Despite it being unobvious, every image in the world has copyright and licencing terms. That doesn’t mean you have to pay to use every image, but it does mean you have to check the author, check the terms of the licence, and if you’re able to use the image, make sure to attribute the copyright owner! Think next before you right click and download.

Produktbild auf Smartphone - Icon mit Achtung Bild

Stock photos: Sell properly with bought images

Stock photo banks, such as Fotolia, are a great way to find the perfect image you are looking for. But be careful when buying and using the image. You have to make sure you check the rights you get given when buying the image. Do you have the right to use this image commercially? Selling old stuff online is classed as a commercial usage. Do you have the right to let others use this photo? Do you have to attribute the author? Can you edit the photo? – we could go on, but you get the idea. Make sure to read the licencing terms before buying an image.

Easy but forbidden: Using original product advertisement material

Producing your own photos may seem like a waste of time if the product manufacturer already has perfect shots for packaging or advertising material. Therefore, they may not be used for your own online business for a long time. Product images of the manufacturers are not automatically released for use or advertising purposes. The same applies to the product descriptions of the manufacturer or a competitor. Text and images are generally protected by copyright. If a dealer wants to use a manufacturer’s images, he should always ask for their use in advance and be assured that the manufacturer is entitled to pass the images on to third parties. Otherwise, there is a threat of abusing copyright and they could claim for damages

 The safer option: Use of Amazon & eBay pictures

Anyone who sells goods through their own shop in the Amazon or eBay marketplace can relax a little bit and take advantage of an already existing database of images. Both Amazon and eBay offer this to its sellers, perhaps others too. The trading platform therefore makes it easier for shop owners to sell, but at the same time obliges them to accept the texts and images provided by Amazon. Luckily, if sellers using this service cannot be held liable if the product photos were used in violation of copyright. After all, they had only been given this selection. But beware: Some courts think of Amazon as the liable party, others blame the seller who is using Amazon services and links itself to other offers.

There it is, our tips for selling your old rickrack online. It’s important to pay respect to the content creators when using their work online, for whatever purpose. If you have any questions regarding copyright contact us, and well happily help, as we know it can be a little confusing online. So we wish you good and fair trading.

© COPYTRACK | Marie Slowioczek-Mannsfeld

Image by Mike Dorner


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About Copytrack

COPYTRACK was founded in 2015 by Marcus Schmitt. Our service is aimed at photographers, publishers, picture agencies and e-commerce providers. We enable free detection of stolen images on the Internet, as well as, international legal enforcement.


We are fighting for fair payment for photographers, picture agencies and publishers. Use Copytrack to find illegally used images free of charge on the Internet, and to take legal action against copyright infringements.