So with that said, does it matter if you use someone else’s picture that you randomly found on the web for your next blog post?
Sadly, there is not easy answer. Basically, the right answer is maybe. Largely, content on the web is copyrighted and can not be reused without permission. However this is largely unpoliced. If someone discovers that their copyrighted material has been ripped off, a cease and desist is normally issued fairly quickly.
In fact, you can see a crap-ton of cease and desist orders and learn more about copyright infringement on the internets by checking out this site: http://chillingeffects.org/
So basically, material that’s copyrighted can not be reused–plain and simple, right? Wellllll, except for a little sumpin sumpin called Fair Use. You can learn more about Fair Use and other cool (and extremely nerdy) web stuff here: http://w2.eff.org/IP/eff_fair_use_faq.php.
So you own a business and you need photos, images, vidoes, etc for your online content. What do you do? My advice, don’t steal other peoples stuff if they don’t want you to use it. If you find something you really like, ask permission to use it. And always provide a link (people appreciate this and don’t get as pissed when you credit them).
There are sources on the web of open source or legal content which you can reuse. (Just be sure you read the rules). Here are two:
http://creativecommons.org/ Their slogan is “Share, Remix, Reuse — Legally”
http://www.flickr.com/creativecommons/ “Many Flickr users have chosen to offer their work under a Creative Commons license, and you can browse or search through content under each type of license.”