3 Ways to Find Free Legal Pictures for Your Websites and Blog Posts

Using images on a website or in a blog entry can break up large blocks of text and increase interest. However, using any ol’ image you find with Google Image Search can land you in legal hot water if that photo is protected by copyright and you don’t have permission to use it.

Just because you use a smaller version of an image or publish a disclaimer or even credit the copyright owner doesn’t mean you can legally use the photo—not even under Fair Use guidelines. (In order to fall under Fair Use, the image must be a thumbnail and also be the focus of your discussion.) In fact, even if you receive a DMCA and immediately take down the photo, you can still be on the hook for monetary damages.

Rather than take a chance that can cost your thousands of dollars or more, select your pictures wisely. There are plenty of other resources available to you.

  • Take your own photos: I love taking my own photos, whether with my digital camera or my phone. It’s a chance to be creative and creating unique images. Plus, by using your own photos you’ll know you have permission to use it however you choose. Just be careful that your photos are taken in public places (photos taken on private property or of the interior of private property require special permissions).
  • Find Creative Commons photos: Some photographers are happy to get their works out there as long as they receive credit and will release their photos under a Creative Commons license. To find them, try Flickr or Stock.xchng or try the Creative Commons search engine.
  • Select photos from the Public Domain: These are photos that have fallen out of copyright or were deliberately released into the public domain. These photos have no restrictions and you are freely able to do with them as you will. Wikipedia has a large list of places to find such images.

Discussion (leave a comment)

Eric Robles had this to say:

This post is incredibly timely for me. A freind of mine just got slapped with a cease and desist from a photographer and even after he pulled the pictrures down the photographer is still going after him for something to the tune of 10 grand. Glad to know there are still places where great pictures can be used for free and without the threat of lawsuit.

xxKamilexx had this to say:

That’s scary that someone can come after you for a picture for that much money.

Thanks for the list!

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