Very recently, a client of mine was sent a letter claiming that my client was using an image protected by copyright on their website, and that they (my client) had the option to either provide a valid license number to prove they had authorization to use the image or remove the image from their site and pay $528 (a 20% discount!).
Naturally, the owner sent myself and a few of his employees an email asking if this was a scam or a legitimate claim. He was also curious as to how this could’ve happened. With my experience providing blog posts to various companies, I am aware of how copyright works when it comes to images, so I told him that a copyright insignia isn’t necessary for images on the web as well as gave him a brief explanation about fair use, stock photos and public domain.
This led to a number of emails back and forth answering questions, and in the end, it all came down to one thing:
Where can I find free images for my website/blog that won’t result in another copyright infringement?
Naturally, there are a number of websites that feature free images and stock photos that can be used for commercial use on blogs and websites. A few examples are as follows:
Flicker is another great option, but be sure you use advanced search with these options checked:
- Only search within Creative Commons-licensed content
- Find content to use commercially
- Find content to modify, adapt, or build upon
There are an endless number of sites where you can find free photos, but this should be a great start for you. Of course, sometimes it takes a little work sifting through these types of sites to find the images you want, but it’s worth it to prevent a copyright claim.
Another option for finding free images that are safe to use is simply to take and create your own.
Nowadays, you don’t need a fancy dancy camera to take a great picture. In fact, if you have a relatively newer smartphone, the camera is likely more than good enough to take some really nice pictures. Now, the prospect of playing photog may sound a bit daunting, but in this day and age taking great photos is infinitely easier, especially because there are so many ways to make your photos look great after you’ve taken them.
Here are a few options:
- Instagram: Photo sharing sites like Instagram are a fun and simple way of editing your photos and adding a cool filter. It’s also a great social media tool.
- Your Phone: Many newer smartphones have an in-phone photo editor that allows you to crop, adjust, tilt, and add filters to images. Some even feature the ability to manually adjust the light and color of your images. I personally have an iPhone 6, and let me tell you, the camera and photo editor are really impressive.
- Pixlr: Pixlr is one of the very best photo editing sites out there. The best part? It’s absolutely free to use. It might take a little time to learn how to use the editor, but Pixlr offers a slew of tutorials and helpful tips if you find yourself struggling with any elements of the editor.
Sure, the easiest way to find a great image is to use Google, but that’s exactly the reason why my client had to pay a fine of over $500. If you are looking for free images and photos for your website and blog posts, then using the methods mentioned above are infinitely safer options.
Have any tips of your own? Please feel free to share them below!