If you’re looking for free images to use on your website or blog, there are several options. However, you should always be aware of copyright law and the potential legal risks.
A copyrighted image is owned by the photographer and cannot be used without permission. Unless it’s considered fair use, you can face copyright infringement charges.
1. Creative Commons
Using images is an important part of content marketing, but not all of the images you find online are copyrighted. This can be frustrating for marketers, especially since many social media images are used without permission.
Fortunately, there are tools available to help you find images that are not subject to copyright. One of these tools is Creative Commons, which gives creators the option to grant attribution-free content to the public. CC offers six types of licenses for use by the public that allow users to share and remix copyrighted material without having to ask the creator for permission.
The most common licenses are Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike, Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs and Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs (or CC BY-NC-ND). All of these allow you to use the image or video however you want with some limitations.
Before you use a work under a Creative Commons license, make sure you read the license carefully. It should explain what you can and cannot do with the image, as well as how to credit the author.
You can also check to see if the work you’re interested in is under copyright by searching for its title or artist name. This will help you identify the type of license it is under and if you can use it for any purpose without having to ask permission from the creator.
Most Creative Commons works are free to use, but some licensors charge for initial access to their materials. Some licensors also charge for downloads or have a subscription model to their services.
In addition to providing copyright licenses, CC also provides other legal and technical tools that help creators and users share their work with the world. These include a public domain dedication tool, CC0, and the Public Domain Mark, which is a way to mark works that are in the worldwide public domain.
CC is committed to making all of its legal tools available globally, so that everyone can share their work legally and easily. For this reason, we offer international (“unported”) and ported versions of our core suite of six copyright licenses.
The international licenses are drafted based on the global needs of copyright law and are designed to be legally effective anywhere in the world. The ported licenses are based on the international license suite but have been modified to reflect local nuances in the expression of legal terms and conditions, drafting protocols, and language.
Flickr is a popular photo-sharing website that’s free to use for most people. It offers both public and private image storage, and allows users to share their images with other Flickr members via “group pools.” These pools can be filtered by topic, date, or location.
Many people use Flickr to organize their photos into albums and create collections. It also allows them to mark their photos as favorites and view all of their favorite photographs in one place.
Some people find that using Flickr is a great way to interact with other photographers on their particular topics of interest. They can post their photographs in the group and then interact with other members through comments on the images that are posted.
In addition to the photos themselves, you can upload videos as well as other files. Some photographers choose to use this feature as a means of sharing their images with others, as it allows them to make a short video of their photograph and then upload that to the Flickr site.
As a Flickr user, you can search for images by license, and if an image you’re interested in is licensed under Creative Commons (CC), this information will appear at the bottom of the Flickr page. You can also see more information about the CC license, and even search for CC-licensed images using their “advanced search.”
Another useful feature of Flickr is its ability to store a geolocation tag with your photos. This can be helpful when you’re traveling and want to share your pictures with friends or family.
You can also set privacy settings for your photos, which prevent certain groups of people from seeing your photos. You can change the privacy settings of an individual photo or entire photostream, or you can add a new photo to a group pool.
Flickr is a great platform to connect with other photographers, both amateur and professional. Using this website will help you build a following and grow your business.
It’s important to note that copyrighted images can be used in a variety of ways without permission, and if you’re not careful you may run into legal issues. The best way to avoid these problems is to always search for images that are either free to use, or have been released under a license that permits reuse.
3. Wikimedia Commons
Many of the images you’ll find on Wikimedia Commons are available under a Creative Commons license. These licences allow you to use the images in a variety of ways without the need to obtain permission from the creator of the work. These licences vary from one to another and you should check the reusing content page on Wikimedia Commons or Creative Commons’ license overview for more information.
Typically, a copyright-free image will have an attribution requirement that you must follow. This will usually include the name of the artist, a link to the website where they created the work and the Creative Commons license that applies to it. This attribution will help the artist to be recognised by future users and will also help ensure that they are not removed from the site or their work is not used inappropriately in the future.
The Wikimedia Foundation also hosts a project called “Wikimedia Commons” that contains a repository of free-to-use images, sounds and other media files that can be easily reused on all Wikimedia projects worldwide as long as the licensing terms are met. This resource is a global collaboration that has resulted in over 67 million media files being published on the site, with some being in the public domain and others being licensed under free licenses such as Creative Commons.
Most of these files are freely downloadable for offline use, as well as being uploaded and hosted on the Wikimedia servers. As of December 2020, Commons contained over 74 million free-to-use media files.
These files can be uploaded by any member of the public and are easily searched, downloaded and re-used. Most of the files are categorized by topic, and you can search them using a range of criteria such as author, title and location.
Some projects on the Wikimedia Foundation, such as the English Wikipedia, have copyright policies that are more compliant than those of Commons and allow local uploads to their projects. However, most projects are now moving all their media into the Commons repository and have stopped allowing local uploading of files.
4. Google Images
Google has built a wide array of tools, including image search, which can be helpful no matter what you’re looking for on the internet. But there are certain things you should know before using these tools, because if you do, you could be at risk of breaking copyright laws.
One of the most common mistakes people make is to use images found on Google without obtaining permission from the original author. This is a violation of copyright law, and can lead to lawsuits.
If you want to avoid this, try searching for images that are licensed under Creative Commons. You can find a list of these licenses at the bottom of any Google Images result page.
Another great place to start is the Advanced Search feature on Google Images, which allows you to filter results by usage rights. You can choose four different states, which will give you a better idea of which images are more likely to be legal for reuse.
This feature can be particularly useful if you’re writing blog posts that incorporate images. It’s important to choose a CC-licensed image because it will be much easier for your readers to share it with their friends on social media platforms.
Alternatively, you can also search for images on stock image sites like Pexels and Unsplash. These are free to download and use, but you’ll need to provide credit to the owner if you’re using them for commercial purposes.
The downside to stock photos, however, is that they’re often not high-quality or HD. You might be able to get away with using a low-quality, watermarked photo for a blog post, but you’ll likely need to invest in a quality, high-resolution image if you want your content to stand out.
If you’re unsure about using a specific image, check its metadata on the file. This will tell you if it’s protected by copyright and what licensing information it includes.
You can also do a reverse image search on Google Images, which can surface visual similar images, source websites, and names or descriptions associated with the image. This is especially helpful if you want to track down where an image originated from and who owns it.