In the age of social media, pictures and graphics are important. If your ministry is on Instagram, Facebook or Snapchat (and most college ministries are) they are essential. However, smart phones and search engines make it all too easy to copy and paste without giving much thought to the source of the photo. Yes, that meme your student leader just sent you would be perfect for your upcoming event, but you should think twice before adding it to your page.
Many of the photos circulating on the web have a copyright, and there are companies and legal entities searching for organizations that are violating copyright laws by using unauthorized copyrighted material. Several ministries and churches have already faced legal action from these groups. Here are some options to help you avoid a copyright violation.
- Use public domain photos. If you want to search for a specific image in your search engine, be sure to put what you are looking for and the words "public domain." Then double check the image you select to be sure that it is actually a public domain image by right clicking on the image and looking at the properties.
- Use a site that sources public domain photos or publish under creative commons agreements. Sites like pixabay and morguefile are great resources for finding quality images. Word of caution: subscription services like Shutterstock often advertise on these pages, so be sure to check that you are selecting one of the free images before you use it.
- Subscribe. If you use a number of quality photos and backgrounds in your ministry, it's a good idea to budget for an annual subscription to a site with a good source of photos. Sites like graphicstock.com, clipart.com and istockphoto.com are great resources depending on your price range. Your subscription pays for your right to republish the images you choose.
- Use your own photos. Get your students to take photos that you can use for publicity and in social media posts. Create a google drive or dropbox folder to collect their photos. It's a great opportunity to involve creative students in your ministry.
What resources do you use for creating great images and graphics? We want to learn from you! Share with us on our Facebook page.