Whether you use Google, Bing, or some other search engine’s image search, it is easy to find images of just about anything. Some of those images are pretty cool. Wouldn’t it be nice to have cool free images to add to your website? Better than buying stock photos, especially when on a shoestring budget. It is easy to download and save any image, upload it to your website. Before you do use images you find online, here are some things you should consider.
I love photography, especially taking nature pictures. One Valentine’s day we had a beautiful snowman. I wanted to see how the snow would look on the rose, and gave the snowman a rose. Took a closeup photo of the rose. Loved the result! Later I found several people using my image, one a photographer, and people would assume looking at her site, that she had taken the photo.
At the same time, I was a member of a photography group and we were discussing copyright issues. How people would steal our images and what to do about it.
- We can watermark our images. (that little faint annoying mark on an image)
- We can include our web url at the bottom of each image
- We can make a cd of our images, pay a fee and mail to the government’s copyright office
- If someone hot links to our image (linking to the image on our site, using both our image without permission and using our bandwidth) we can edit that image so they now have a stolen image message showing up on their website.
- Request payment for use of image or removal from the website using our image
- If not removed, hire a lawyer and start legal proceedings.
While it isn’t required to mail in the the US copyright office a cd of images, if a photographer or graphic designer takes someone to court successfully, they get more money if they take that route. Never assume that just because an image doesn’t have a watermark or words copyright on the image itself, you are free to use it.
I’ve had people hot link my images, upload my images to their site without permission. I’ve had people email me, asking for permission to use an image. One nice person asked for the cost to use one of my photos. Always ask permission before using the photo. That takes a while, and the owner may or may not respond.
I was using my own images and images from stock photography sites. I found a great post by Skellie about using Flickr images, and have been using them since. Her site is no longer up, thus the video below:
A great tip from Ray Colin: “In addition to attribution and a link back to the original, I like to leave a comment on Flickr to thank the owner and leave a link to my post. You’d be surprised at the number of visits from Flickr users that have resulted from this practice.”
Your own unique images are best, digital cameras are best. Many search engines are smart enough now to know whether it is an unique image or not. However, most of us don’t have unlimited resources to create cool graphics and photos for our sites. I use a mix of my own photos, stock photos, and flickr’s creative commons.
When you do any branding, your header, fliers, ads you really have to make sure you have the right to use that photo that way. Example, if you were doing a post about Steve Jobs, I’m sure there are public domain images you can find and use. But if you were creating an ad for your business, header for your website, etc. and you use his photo so that it appears he endorses your product, you could quickly find yourself in trouble.
What do you use for images on your site?
Free Image Resources
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