Don’t Get Sued! Image Licensing Rules for Real Estate Investors

With all of the rules on the internet that need to be recognized, image, music, and media use is among the most important. Why? Because you can get your butt sued for using media the wrong way if you don’t understand image licensing!

Copyright lawsuits can cost your business upwards of $8,000 for using an image the wrong way. That’s nuts! Especially because it’s such an easy thing to avoid as long as you know how copyright and creative commons licenses work.

It might seem heavy with legal stuff, but don’t worry. This is a comprehensive guide for real estate investors on image licensing. We’re going to put everything in simple english so that you understand everything about creative commons and copyrights for your real estate investing business. This way, you won’t get in lots of trouble for using an image with the wrong license.

Don’t Get Sued!

There are differences in the types of images, videos, and songs you’re allowed to use. You always need to know the license of the media you are using.

First off, it’s good to give credit where credit is due. You wouldn’t want someone taking credit for your work, so accrediting the original artist when it’s necessary is important (depending on the license that we’ll talk about further down).

Second, using images that are not in the public domain, have the right licenses, or without appropriate credit, will get you into lots of legal trouble. The short end of it is a lot of distributors online have lawyers with bots that crawl websites to see if images are being used the right way.

In simple English: those lawyers will find out if you’re using non-Public Domain images, or not crediting the original artist, and send you a huge bill. Either that, or take you to court. And you don’t want that for your business.

Don’t be afraid of using images though! We’re going to outline everything for you in the most simple terms so that you won’t make a mistake that gets your real estate investing business sued. The first thing to know is that the safest media to use are images and videos in the public domain, or CC0 licensed.

What Does Public Domain Mean?

cc0 image licensing

As defined by Attorney Sara Hawkins, Public Domain Images (or images with a CC0 license) is:

A work that…has ‘no rights reserved’ and is free of copyright restrictions, and likely other restrictions (i.e., moral, publicity, and privacy rights). This is a very broad designation and it is clearly understood within the Creative Commons community that no work carries this designation unless it is explicitly marked as a CC0 work.

Wow that was a legal way of putting it. Let’s make it simpler.

Basically, what Public Domain means is that anything marked with that title, or clearly stating it is a “CC0 licensed work” is ok to use in any context, and can be altered if you so choose.

For example, the featured image of the article is using a CC0 licensed image that has been cropped and resized, with text and graphic elements added to it, for business use. This image is safe to use, and we are allowed to alter it the way we want, because it is in the public domain.

Websites with CC0 images you can use without worrying are:


Different Types of Image Licensing

Don’t just assume that an image or video is CC0 licensed if it’s on a “public domain” website. There are different types of licenses that you need to be aware of so that you’re not using any copyrighted information illegally. For the majority of non CC0 licensed media, you will have to apply “appropriate credit“.

Appropriate Credit

Appropriate credit can be one of a few things:

  1. The name of the creator and attribution party
  2. The copyright notice
  3. The license notice
  4. A link to the material (preferably the original link)

The credits should be applied in a meaningful way and not hidden somewhere. Think of it like the credits at the end of a movie. You don’t see the credits during the middle of the film, but they are still there at the end to appropriately credit the people involved in making it.

The same rules go for non-public domain media. For example, if you’re using a song for a Youtube video that has an attribution only license, you should put the name of the creator and a link to their work in the description of that video.

Attribution Only

cc by 4.0 image licensing
Image credit:

Attribution Only, or CC BY 4.0is exactly what it sounds like. In simple terms, this means that if you use the copyright material in anyway you have to apply appropriate credits (name of the creator, changes made if any, etc.).

An image, video, or song with CC BY 4.0 licensed on it means you are able to adapt it and share it as you want. The actions you take on the piece of media cannot be revoked by the licensor unless you do not provide appropriate credit.

Directly from

You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in anyway that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.

You may not apply legal terms or technological measures that legally restrict others from doing anything the license permits.

Attribution ShareAlike

cc by-sa 2.0 image licensing
Image credit:

With Attribution ShareAlike, or CC BY-SA 2.0, you are still free to share and adapt the media where the licensor cannot revoke these freedoms. The rules are a bit different from Attribution Only, though.

You are free to use, share, and change the media as long as you:

Give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made.You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in anyway that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.

If you remix, transform, or build upon the material, you must distribute your contributions under the same license as the original.

This is where things can start to get messy. Ok, let’s break it down.

Let’s say you’re promoting a video for your real estate investing business and you want to use a particular image. If the image you’re using has a CC BY-SA 2.0 license, you are allowed to use it and transform it as you want.

BUT, your video needs to be distributed with the appropriate credits AND be distributed with a CC BY-SA 2.0 license. Which means you need to get your work licensed before it can go on your website, or YouTube. 

Attribution No Derivatives

cc by-nd 3.0 image licensing
Image credit:

We’re going to keep this one simple. With an Attribution No Derivatives, or CC BY-ND 3.0, all you can do is share the work with appropriate credit. You cannot alter the work in any way.

Meaning, if you want to use a picture on your website, you cannot adapt it at all. No cropping, no color change (even black and white), no framing, no graphic elements. Nothing. Works with this license can only be shared and credited as they are.

Word for word from

If you remix, transform, or built upon the material, you may not distribute the modified material.

Should you use CC BY-ND 3.0 licensed stuff? The safe answer is just: NO. There’s plenty of great public domain material you can use instead.

Attribution Non-Commercial

cc by-nc 2.0 image licensing
Image credit to:

The long and short of Attribution Non-Commercial, or CC BY-NC 2.0, is that whatever media you use cannot be distributed for commercial purposes. And, since you’re a real estate investing business, all of your material is used for commercial gain.

Which means, just don’t do it. If you see anything (pictures, videos, vectors, graphics, songs, etc.) that’s labeled with CC BY-NC 2.0 don’t use it. Treat it like an angry snake and just walk away from it.

Your Personal Images are OK to Use

If you want to use an image that you took, you absolutely can. You don’t have to license it, and you don’t have to be afraid of getting sued for it. The images you take and upload are your intellectual property, which means you don’t have to credit them at all.

If you’re using professionally photographed images, though, you need to talk to your photographer about what kind of accreditation they prefer when their clients use their work. Other than that, whatever images you have personally taken for your business – such as pictures of your properties, your team, or you and your family – are completely safe to use.

Don’t Stress, Use Our Images

lpimages public domain image licensing

Believe us when we tell you that we absolutely do not want you to get in trouble with copyright laws.

Copyright lawsuits can cost your business upwards of $8,000 for using an image the wrong way. That’s absolutely ridiculous, and can all be avoided in one of two ways:

  1. You understand and follow the copyright licenses we talked about
  2. You use images that you know for sure are CC0 licensed

Like our images! We’ve gone through the process to make sure all of our images are ok for our customers to use. Don’t worry, they’re all ok to be featured on your website.

The default image pack is already featured on your website without you needing to do anything, but we do have other image packs for you to choose from in case you want to change the aesthetic of your website.

All you have to do to get your new image packs is go to your dashboard, click on the drop down tab under the website you want to edit, click on “Change Your Image Pack”, and select the one you want! It’s really as easy as that.

Don’t get sued because of image licensing issues. Take what you’ve learned from this article, and the public domain images we provide in your LeadPropeller dashboard, and make the best site you can!


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