When you're thinking about printing a picture onto canvas, you've probably already got your own ideas in mind about the type of image you wish to reproduce. For many people, this will be a personal image; a photo that they’ve taken themselves, that someone has taken of them and a loved one, or a planned photograph that will be taken with the specific purpose of printing in mind. It may be of your children, your pet, a local landmark or a special occasion – but the one thing all these types of image have in common is that they very clearly belong to you.
However, for some people their preference is for a more generic image - or they have picture in mind but don’t feel that their photography skills are good enough to produce an image of a printable quality. In these instances you can hire a professional photographer to take that picture for you – but due to the expense, many people will go down the alternative route of sourcing an image online which they will then send off to be printed.
The problem with choosing this route for your canvas print is that copyright laws are complicated, often vague and vary from country to country. Therefore, while you may have found the most fantastic image you could imagine on the Internet, that doesn't necessarily mean that you have the right to copy it and have it printed!
Of course, in reality nobody would know that you’ve done this and it's very rare for an individual to be prosecuted for this kind of infringement of copyright - but if you want to be extra careful and make sure that this will never happen to you, then you need to ensure that you only print pictures that are available in the public domain.
Stay safe and search smart with public domain images
There are plenty of online resources where you can find images that are absolutely fine to reproduce as you see fit. There is also something called the ‘creative commons’ license, which is a license attributed by the original image owner and shows that they are quite happy for other people to use their image as they wish.
Some images are free and you can copy them straight off, while others will be available to the public, but you need to pay for them. With the latter, you will often find that the image show on your screen will have a watermark to ensure that it can’t be stolen – a good example of this is the website iStockphoto, where you can search by image type or category and pay for the privilege of using that photo. Once you’ve paid for your photo you will be given a file to download with a non-watermarked version for you to use.
There are plenty of image websites that are easily found by conducting a quick search – but do always take the time to quickly check their terms and conditions for use, just in case.
Next week we’ll share some further information about internet image copyright and provide some additional resources for finding copyright-free photos that you can print onto canvas without any fear of repercussions!