March 8, 2013

How to find free legal images on the web so that you are not sued for copyright violation

We have received a number of queries in response to our earlier posts, especially the ones  on image aspects for blogs in which we had specifically advised bloggers to use  images from the web with the owner’s permission only. In the present post, we tell you how to find legally usable FREE images on the web (public domain images).

Most bloggers know about Creative Commons –  a non-profit organization that enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools. They have a search facility for finding images [and also text, music and multi-media] – images that you can ‘share, use and re-mix’. Click here to go to the CC search page. On the top right, they have a big search box followed by two check-boxes for the type of content you want to search.

Wikimedia Commons is great storehouse of visual content that is free to use.  Moreover, no licence – even attribution – is required for using most of the images available on this platform. Still, look at the image details before using it.

Pixabay is a popular picture sharing site with numerous copyright free images. 

There are many sites that offer images on a price but have sections that have free images. For example, you can search for copyright-free images on Flickr, IStockPhoto, GettyImages etc. Be sure that the image you copy has necessary non-copyright notification and does not have watermark.

New social networks have emerge that share photos, and at present Instagram is most popular of them all. You can see its terms of use of others' photos in the given link.

Google’s advanced image search also has the facility to search images according to CC licence. Go to this Google image search page, type the search keyword and click on the ‘usage rights’ filter at the end of the search page, select your option – and you have all the images according to the usage right you chose!

But searching a usable image is only the first step. You must read the fine print about an image  carefully, because the onus on using the image correctly is on you and not Google or any other agency listing images for you. So, go to the image and look for licence terms, and follow them  before using the image.
Updated in 2016.