Posted by: David Spinks - 17 December 2009 / 12:32
A picture can draw the reader in. It provides visual stimulation that can lead into your content. It can serve as a visual representation of the topic. Overall, it just provides a more enjoyable reading experience. The tricky part is finding pictures that you’re legally allowed to use in a blog post.
There are legal restrictions on pretty much every image on the internet. Some have more restrictions than others.
Photo cred: Darwin Bell
So, what can get you in trouble? DeviantArt explains it briefly:
What is Copyright Infringement?
To simplify this question, copyright infringement occurs when you do certain things with a creative work which someone else produced without first getting the proper permission.
Some examples of copyright infringement (this is only a partial listing) can include:
- Placing a photograph or creative work online without proper permission.
- Using a creative work commercially.
- Adapting a creative work of one medium to another, such as making a book into a movie or a photograph into a painting.
- Modifying or editing a creative work without proper permission.
You can read the full page here. If you haven’t checked out DeviantArt, I highly recommend it. If you’re going to use an image from this site though, you have to get written permission.
You may hear that you can get around copyrights by attributing the work, by only using a portion of the work, if you don’t use it commercially etc… You may be allowed to do these things, but no matter what, you need permission, either from the specific copyright guidelines, or from the owner.
Etiquette tips when using images:
- If you can, ask for permission first. Even if you don’t have to due to the copyright specifications, the owner might appreciate knowing how you’ll be using their work.
- It’s always good form to attribute the picture’s author. Remember though, that attributing the owner doesn’t override the copyright restrictions.
- Link to page where you found the picture. It drives traffic to the artists’ work. They’re helping you, so why not help them?
So now that you know the general rules, here are some great resources to find legal pictures for your blog posts.
1. Flickr Creative Commons
Flickr‘s creative commons is a great resource. In fact, it’s my go to website. Just type in a search term, then when it brings you to the results page, click advanced search under the search bar and check off the Creative Commons checkbox at the bottom.
Different pictures have different limitations based on the specific copyright though so be sure to check the copyright info on the right of the picture page. Usually, the owner just wants attribution.
There are tools that you can use to search through flickr’s creative commons. Try Compfight out for size. It’s amazing.
Stock.xchng is a great resource. I like how it provides a number of relevant free pictures, but also shows you better quality “premium” pictures that seem to be very affordable, if you find something you really have to have. In my experience so far, there are less results than on flickr, but they’re more closely related to the keyword.
Photobucket has been around for a long time and I really love how they’ve changed over the years. Not only do they gather some truly captivating photos but they also encourage users to use and share them across their blogs and social networks by providing you with the links.
On photobucket, ALL content is available for you to use, with pretty much no strings attached. Quoted from their terms of service:
By displaying or publishing (“posting”) any Content on or through the Photobucket Services, you hereby grant to Photobucket and other users a non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, worldwide, limited license to use, modify, delete from, add to, publicly perform, publicly display, reproduce and translate such Content, including without limitation distributing part or all of the Site in any media formats through any media channels, except Content marked “private” will not be distributed outside the Photobucket Services.
4. Stock Vault
- In digital format on non-commercial websites, multimedia presentations, broadcast film and video, cell phones.
- In printed non-commercial materials, magazines, newspapers, books, brochures, flyers, CD/DVD covers, etc.
- Along with your non-commercial identity on business cards, letterhead, etc.
- To decorate your home, your office or any public place.
Unprofound is a bit different from other sites. You’re free to use their photos for your projects, and even to edit, as long as you let them know where you use the photos. By their own admition, their search feature isn’t that great unless you use really generic keywords. They make up for it though by allowing you to search by color, in case you really want your pictures to match your blog design.
Sources: Virtual Hosting
Thanks to Charles J. Orlando for sharing this site in the comments. It’s definitely worth checking out. You can search by keyword or browse by a bunch of different categories that they offer.
Right up front they say it, “Free images for your inspiration, reference and use in your creative work, be it commercial or not!”
Definitely worth checking out.
So, go find some amazing pictures and bring some life to your blog. Using these guidelines, and these sources, you’ll be safe from any legal ramifications.
Let us know if this was useful and if you know of any other great sources for legal pictures, share them in the comments!
UPDATE: Props to Danny Brown for sharing the Photodropper Plugin for you wordpress users. Makes finding and attributing Creative Commons licensed photos really easy.
UPDATE: Thanks to Deb Mallett for reminding us in the comments that sometimes the people that upload photos to sites like flickr don’t understand the copyrights themselves. If there are brands or pictures in a photo, they need their permission to submit the photos to the site. Every site that I’ve seen has provided a message that makes sure the user has the rights to upload, but not everyone follows those rules.
Thanks to Calvin Lee for shedding some light on this topic.