A website looks better with fitting pictures. While designing my website I am using Google images to search for the right pictures (next time I will probably use a website that stores free images). Using a copyrighted picture, when I know who created it or to which company the copyright belongs is definitely not a big deal, since I can contact them and ask them for using it on my page (non-commercial).

However, there are these websites that store wallpapers. They usually don't have a source, either. And in their ToS they tell that if you want to use a wallpaper of their site, you gotta ask the copyright holder (which is unknown in this case).

But after all they are using copyrighted pictures as well, and they write: "If you find copyrighted material on our page, contact us and we will remove it for you."

So here are my questions:

1) How can companies use copyrighted pictures and avoid getting sued? On top of that, they are a commercial page.

2) Can I do the same? (if the source of a picture is unknown and/or from such a wallpaper website)

  • In the U.S., all creative works are copyrighted when created. It is best to use images for which you can account for permission for usage. Otherwise, you can be hit with a DMCA complaint without being contacted. Even though this may not be the end of the world, you do not want that.
    – closetnoc
    Sep 29, 2015 at 8:40
  • @closetnoc How are the wallpaper storing companies safe then? Is it impossible for them to get a DMCA complaint? And is there a difference between commercial and non-commercial websites in this case? Sep 29, 2015 at 8:46
  • Copyright does not have a carve out for how a copyright work is used, commercial or not. Anyone who uses copyright works without permission can see a DMCA complaint regardless. How sites violate copyright is not for you to worry about. It is more important that you make sure your site is clear from violations for your sake. I understand using an image temporarily as a placeholder while you create a web page (we all do this) and I understand liking the image and thinking if you can use the image (again we all do this), but do update the image before posting it. The world has changed.
    – closetnoc
    Sep 29, 2015 at 9:11
  • @closetnoc I understand, thank you for the clarification. Sep 29, 2015 at 9:25


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