Bottom line is, if you're not using appropriately licensed images, you're stealing. It's copyright theft in the same way as pirating a film.
"I can't afford it" is a lame excuse. If I can't afford a Ferrari, I don't just steal one instead.
May be a slightly extreme analogy, but the principle is exactly the same.
Don't think you'll never get caught, either. People do, all the time, and the penalties are heavy. Heavy enough to put you out of business and ruin your reputation. Imagine having to explain it to a potential employer.
The risks just aren't worth it. You can get stock images for £1-5 each. That is hardly big bucks for the sake of not breaking the law, not stealing, and not putting your entire career at risk.
Sorry if I sound a bit on the preachy side here, but it just ain't worth it. If you're doing a website for say, £400, are you seriously telling me the extra £40 for some stock images is too much to stomach?
Edited by brightonmike, 15 March 2012 - 09:01 PM.