Finding Freely Distributed Images for Your Blog

Why using freely licensed images as a blogger is important

In 2007, celebrity blogger Perez Hilton was sued for a whopping $7.6 million for using 51 images that were copyrighted by X17 Inc., a celebrity photo agency. As a blogger, it is very easy to make the mistake of using somebody else’s photograph as your own. Many people falsely assume that because a picture is available freely on the internet, they are able to take it and use it for their own purposes. Perez Hilton is a perfect example of what can go wrong with that strategy. Because many bloggers have such small audiences, they assume they are safe from prosecution. While this may often be the case, all it takes is one blog to create a surge in popularity making it a good practice to always follow copyright laws. Luckily, following these laws is not overly difficult to do.

Simply doing a Google image search is not enough to avoid copyright infringement. One of the most common ways that people have licensed their photos for legal use is through Creative Commons. Creative Commons offers many different types of licensing that can affect how images licensed through them can be used with certain requirements.

Attribution

In order to use the image, the creator must be credited. This is the case with every license offered by Creative Commons.

Share Alike

The images can be changed in any way as long as any further product is licensed in the exact same way with a Share Alike license.

No Derivatives

These images cannot be changed in any way.

Non-Commercial

The images cannot be used for commercial purposes.

Image Resources

With all of these copyright licenses in mind, here are some of the web’s best resources to find literally millions of images that use these licenses.

everystockphoto

Launched in 2006, everystockphoto searches millions of photos across a variety of sources, many of which are very high quality. They have a very good rating system so it is relatively easy to find good photos. However, there are many NSFW pictures so be careful.

Flickr

Flickr is one of the biggest and most well known photo sharing sites on the net, with contributions from amateur and professional photographers. It has a Creative Commons license tool built in so that each user can choose what they want their photo to be attributed with. However, this means that you must be careful with which photos you do, and do not use as each photo could be attributed differently. Flickr also has many high-resolution photos.

Freefoto

This site focuses on images for non-commercial use. However, the download, license and share interface (which is very easy to use) will in some cases offer methods for gaining unrestricted use of images.

morgueFile

This site is one of the most popular sites for Attribution licensed amateur photographs. It has a bunch of great photos that are well organized and each image has a clear description of its licensing requirements.

PhotoGen

A moderately sized collection of well categorized, high quality, free to use stock photography. This is an excellent site if you need to quickly find and use a fairly general stock photo.

PhotoTree

This is a great website to use if you’re not quite sure what you need. After making an account, PhotoTree will randomly find pictures from Flickr that both match the interests indicated in the profile creation and are free to use. It can even be a good website to use for fun, because it does such a great job at finding interesting pictures.

PicApp

This is a very new service, but it is my new favorite. While it is still only in beta, there are rarely any issues. It indexes over 40 million images, and has a great layout similar to that of Bing. There is even a WordPress plugin to make it extremely easy to add images to WordPress blogs. Each image has an embedded tag for Picapp, which makes attribution a snap. They have many pictures of celebrities, which is a rarity for a free image site.

Stock.xchng

Stock.xchng has been around since 2001, and has literally thousands of images. The layout of the site isn’t the best and is slightly hard to find what you are looking for, but they have lots of great images including ones that are hi-res.

Stockvault

This site is a collection of medium and high resolution images that are intended to be used by students and designers for personal, non-commercial use. The site is very easy to navigate which makes it a great resource for finding exactly what you need.

Wikimedia

A Wikipedia style site that can be a bit trick to navigate as images are categorized very specifically. Many images here are free to use and modify, however, which allows a great deal of freedom for usage.