Everyone working as freelance copywriter have experienced the following: You’ve finished your latest blog post. You’ve edited your words to be as free flowing and powerful while being clear of any grammatical slip-ups. Now you just need a few images to illustrate your point further.
You may have the temptation to go on Google Images, retrieve any relevant image you can find, and upload it to your blog. However, people tend to forget that most images are copyrighted, and you can get into serious trouble if you use someone’s image without permission, with a passive-aggressive remark from the owner at best, a lawsuit at worst.
Can I Use Copyrighted Images?
In certain occasions, fair use does apply. If your blog post is about a movie, your article would benefit from a few screenshots of the film to help illustrate it better. However, if you’re just using an image to decorate your article, then fair use is a no-no, and you should avoid it whenever possible.
So what if you need a few images for your post that aren’t fair use, and you can’t go out and take your own pics? Simple. You find pictures that are free to use.
Free Images, and the Rules That Apply
Some photographers would be more than happy for you to use their images, and they’ll lay down a few rules when sharing their pics. A few images will be in the public domain, meaning that you can share without attribution. But many are licensed via Creative Commons, and you must attribute the author of the image if you want to use it. They may have other rules as well, such as not using the images for monetization.
A Good Site to Find Free Images
Some sites will require you to pay to use images, so where can you look for free images without any strings attached? My personal favorite site has to be Wikimedia Commons. It’s from the same people who developed Wikipedia, and its goal is to have a massive library of free media for people to use.
Using Wikimedia Commons is about the same as Wikipedia. Just type whatever you want to in the search bar and then look for the image you’ll find. Easy as pie.
How to Attribute Images
Once you find the image you’re looking for, go to its page and look at the licensing rules. Some will be public domain, and you can upload it to your blog without any worries. But most will be Creative Commons. This means you must attribute the picture to the person who took it, which should be provided, and if you alter the image, you must publish it under CC as well.
Usually, the file will have the option to link the image to your site, so you don’t even have to worry about attribution. You can just have it so the people who click on the image are directed to its Wikimedia page.
And that’s the easy way to post images without having to worry about a DMCA on your plate.
Do you want more? Take a look to this post about where to find free legal images.